New Organization Works Toward Managing Feral Cats

Founders of Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats seek volunteers to help with their new trap-neuter-return program in Connecticut.

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A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period, Lori Ratchelous told The Cheshire Herald, a newspaper in Cheshire, Conn. To help decrease this number, Ratchelous, a former adoption coordinator with Forgotten Felines in Westbrook, helped start Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats.

She is currently working to obtain non-profit status for the organization, which runs a trap-neuter-return program to traps feral cats, neuter them, and return them to their colony.

Partner Kerry Bartoletti told the newspaper, [In] New York, cats were included in the animal-control realm and low-cost spaying and neutering was available. That's not the case here. Bartolettis comments come from her experience working with a cat rescue group in New York, before moving to Cheshire.

Both women envision an organization based in large part on the support of volunteers and the generosity of area veterinarians, the newspaper reported. Many people already volunteer their time by making wooden boxes filled with hay for the cats to live in.

We are looking for people who want to help us trapping, feeding, finding foster homes, building cat houses and in return we will offer education about our program and how to care for these animals, Bartoletti said.

The group has already turned one feral cat colony into a managed one. They have worked with a mobile vet clinic, but they are hoping that some local veterinary clinics will get involved because appointment availability is scarce, the newspaper reported.

Many people abandon their cats, thinking that the cat can return to its natural instincts. However, such cats often die from starvation, disease, abuse, or are attacked by natural predators, the newspaper reported.

Cats are considered disposable pets and people just leave them, Ratchelous said.

The women said that once the feral cats are sterilized and returned, the colonies would not continue to grow. The colonies would shrink and the cats would eventually die natural deaths.

Ratchelous and Bartoletti are hoping to get local vets and the towns Animal Control department involved. They would also like to reach out to community service groups for cat food drives and related projects.

To volunteer, or for more information, call Ratchelous at 203-444-3960; or Bartoletti at 866-811-2287.

Posted: March 21, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

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