Spring is springing and so are kittens, puppies

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We all love baby animals, so I’ll cut to the chase, as they say. Most of us are aware of the importance of spaying and neutering for your pets, because for most of us, they are family members and we want to provide proper care. Most of us have seen animals neglected and abused and left to roam. We all know what happens when this goes unchecked and breeding continues. Did you know 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized? More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification. Spaying and neutering saves lives.

We all love baby animals, so I’ll cut to the chase, as they say. Most of us are aware of the importance of spaying and neutering for your pets, because for most of us, they are family members and we want to provide proper care. Most of us have seen animals neglected and abused and left to roam. We all know what happens when this goes unchecked and breeding continues. Did you know 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized? More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification. Spaying and neutering saves lives.

Outdoor cats may suffer from starvation, disease, predators and other fatalities, such as being run over by cars or worse. For those who have asked if something can be done to prevent feral cat population growth without trap and kill, the answer is yes. It is TNR, which has been scientifically and socially proven to be the only method that works in the long run and saves more lives and money than the old method of euthanasia.

Common inquiries are:

What is a feral cat?

Feral cats are the offspring of domestic cats that have adapted to living wild and not perished in the process. Contrary to popular belief, feral cats can live good lives with a little help from humans. Unlike domestic pet cats, the outdoors is their home. Stats indicate over 80 percent of Americans surveyed feel TNR is the humane way to go and prefer humane treatment of feral cats outdoors.

Many cats are abandoned, dumped and homeless. These cats can usually be introduced back into a home environment given a little time and understanding with TLC. These cats become feral in order to survive. Many die outdoors due to abuse, starvation, disease, freezing and predators.

Remember, always check with property owners if you are feeding/caring for cats on another’s property.

What is TNR?

TNR is a humane, non-lethal approach to management of feral cat populations. It is a management plan where healthy feral cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and returned to their habitat where they are provided long-term care.

In some cases, relocation is necessary, although we do not advocate it. It is always helpful and necessary for any agency and community animal organization to have a list of places willing to provide humane care and a home for a feral or semi-feral or homeless cat. If you are willing to provide a barn cat/ farm cat home please, contact any of the following people and leave your name, phone number and brief message:

Jill Urban (Claws & Paws – foster mom/adoptions) 575-418-8696

Stephanie Mitchell (APAS and kitty foster mom) 505-480-2042

Elaine Burgess (New-Mexica TNR network) newmexicatnr@yahoo.com or 575-838-2078.

Some of you may be taking care of abandoned, homeless, feral cats already on your property in Socorro or out in the county somewhere. We commend you for your compassion and continuing endeavors. We also know intervention/help may be required to prevent your one or three kitties into turning into a “multi” kitty home or property.

Suggestions:

1. Continue to feed and water any feral cats in a given area on your property or with permission if someone else’s property, preferably in a low noise, easy access area.

2. Phone and obtain a voucher for spay/neuter for any abandoned or feral cats you are caring for. Here in Socorro County, you may contact Zimmer Foundation at 505-466-1676 or go to Zimmer-Foundation.org. There is a phone interview and an application process to receive a voucher for spay/neuter. All approvals are strictly at the discretion of Zimmer Foundation.

3. When a voucher is approved or other arrangements made, call your local veterinarian and make the appointment for sterilization in advance. Here in Socorro it is: The Ark of Socorro at 575-865-9002 or 1-888-349-3189 and Animal Haven of Socorro at 575-835-3545. The Zimmer Foundation can also help you with your beloved family feline’s spay/neuter when you meet income guidelines of $40,000 annually or less. Simply call and inquire if you have any concerns or questions.

4. Humanly trap your cats/kittens within a 24- to 48-hour guideline prior to the appointment with the vet. Remember, these are feral cats, not lap cats. Cover the cage with a dark towel , or any towel you have, this will help keep them calm, even in transport. Do not feed after midnight prior to the day of surgery. For humane TNR instruction and hands-on help, contact New-MexicaTNR at 575-838-2078.

In order to qualify for assistance in spay/neuter for the cats you are feeding, you must agree to continue to feed and water cats you are currently caring for. We are not a relocation service for cats. However, when cats are in proven extreme danger, we can assist in placing in the Barn Cat Farm Cat program.

5. For kittens humanely caught and in need of a foster home until adoption age, call Urban or Mitchell. Kittens, up to age 12 weeks, are more readily socialized. Remember, if a kitten has its eyes still closed, don’t touch as mom may leave them. Always leave kittens with the mother when possible until its eyes are open. Usually about age 4-weeks a kitten can eat solid kitten food. Socialized kittens stand a better chance for being adopted.

6. Opt to adopt a feral cat to take to the barn. Always contact the Socorro Animal Shelter. You can adopt feral kitties to live outside on your property. Your outbuildings will be rodent free. Always feed and water your barn and country cats. Just like us, they can’t live on air, dirt and bread alone. Spay/neuter certificates come with the adoption process. For information, call the Socorro Animal Shelter on the adoption process and certificates concerning any animal companion. The Socorro Animal Shelter and Adoption Center phone number is 838-3103.