In honor of National Feral Cat Day, the Richmond SPCA commends the hard work of many hundreds of feral cat volunteer caretakers within Richmond and the surrounding communities. These dedicated transporters, educators and coordinators help ensure that feral cats are provided with essential sterilization and vaccination against rabies. The difference made within the community by these inspiring community volunteers is immeasurable.
Trap-Neuter-Return (abbreviated as TNR) is a process in which feral cats are transported in humane cat traps, sterilized, vaccinated, and then returned to the feral colony which is their home. This method is the only humane and effective way to manage free-roaming cat populations. These groups of cats living on their own are referred to as colonies, and they form where there are adequate sources of food, water and shelter resources. Anytime you observe a cat with a “tipped ear,” you are observing the work of these dedicated volunteers. The ear tip conveys that a cat has been through the TNR process and serves as proof that the animal has been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies. The benefits of TNR include fewer homeless kittens being born and diminished nuisance behaviors, plus improvement of overall health.
Jeff and Kris Griffin, a hardworking husband and wife team began their TNR work by merging their seemingly opposing passions: fishing and cats. According to the active couple, “It took strategy, patience, and you had to think like the cat.” Their interests aligned and their service to the community continues. When asked what keeps the couple moving forward with their efforts, they responded, “It’s for the thousands of [homeless] kittens that we will never see, because of our trapping.”
The inspirational words of Tara Boulier, a veteran trapper, ring true to the cause, “keep calm, educate and persevere.” It is a motto like this that resonates within the caretaker community. The work can appear to be never ending and there seems to always be another newly discovered colony in need of help. The intensive volunteer efforts highlight why education is so vital to the TNR effort. Caretakers, such as Tara Boulier and Steve Kelley, tirelessly advocate for community cats. Because feral cats are not socialized to people, they are not susceptible of adoption. Community caretakers advocate for their safety and protection. This work includes educating the public about the lives and needs of feral cat colonies. When asked what sustains their ongoing efforts, Kelley and Boulier answered, “the reward of knowing that we improved the life of a precious animal, that feeling is what keeps us going.”
The Richmond SPCA is proud to work in conjunction with volunteer caretakers to continue delivering effective and lifesaving TNR programs. Just in the last two years, our Clinic for Compassionate Care has sterilized, vaccinated, de-wormed and delivered other routine care while under anesthesia to more than 3,500 feral cats. These services are provided free of charge thanks to the charitable support of generous donors, which make it possible for the cats to live out their natural lifespan in their outdoor homes. In honor of National Feral Cat Day, the Richmond SPCA would like to thank all volunteers who dedicate their time to community cats. The Richmond SPCA’s mission, to practice and promote the principal that every life is precious, is truly exemplified in the volunteer work associated with community cat care, and for that we are immensely grateful.
If you are interested in learning more about the lifesaving work that can be accomplished through the Trap Neuter Return program and feral cat care, please visit our website.
Tori Williams is the coordinator of client services at the Richmond SPCA's Clinic for Compassionate Care. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.