Since 2004, the Richmond SPCA has operated a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program with the purpose of humanely and effectively controlling the region’s feral cat population through spay/neuter and vaccination against rabies. The Richmond SPCA is happy to provide over 1,000 no-cost sterilization surgeries and rabies vaccinations every year for our community’s outdoor cats. In doing so, this program relies heavily on dedicated volunteers to feed, transport and monitor colonies. The Richmond SPCA is committed to supporting feral caretakers in their charitable endeavors associated with TNR and recognizes that communication is key to coordinating care.
With so many members of the community working on the cats’ behalf, the need for a centralized location for caretakers to connect became apparent, and the Richmond VA Feral Cat Network was created. This free group, hosted on Yahoo, has continued to grow both in its membership and effectiveness. The volunteer group administrator, who anonymously donates her time to this cause, proudly describes the online forum as, “more than just an online group consisting of those with a common interest. We share a mission (CATS - compassion/action/teaching/sharing) as well as values in promoting the humane treatment and non-lethal control of feral and free-roaming cats.” This group allows feral cat caregivers to sign up for veterinary appointments at the Richmond SPCA and to share unused appointments among themselves, as well as coordinate community efforts.
This unique online group is more than just for those interested in helping feral cats. It also acts as a platform for education about community cats. The Richmond VA Feral Cat Network is a resource for those that are elderly, disabled and/or with limited resources. The group administrator says that helping those populations is the most rewarding part of her volunteer role. When asked to describe her most memorable experience, she recalled an individual helping a senior citizen about four years ago. She says, “He had been feeding for about a decade at a local business. These cats had no veterinary care and over the years, untold numbers of young kittens disappeared into the dense wooded area adjacent to the business parking lot. A Richmond VA Feral Cats volunteer determined that the location was within two blocks of her managed feral colony and volunteered to assist. More than a dozen cats were trapped and provided with no-cost spay and neuter, de-worming, and rabies vaccinations at the Richmond SPCA Clinic for Compassionate Care. Additionally, the volunteer purchased low-cost distemper vaccinations for each of the cats and offered to assist the caretaker with twice weekly feedings which she performed for three years.”
Stories like this one, as well as countless others, are why we celebrate National Feral Cat Day at the Richmond SPCA. The motto “every life is precious” is upheld through the daily actions of volunteer trappers and community members who dedicate themselves to this cause. We want to show our appreciation for them and the countless hours they spend educating the public, helping both people and cats in need, managing colonies and transporting cats for TNR. From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you!
Tori Williams is the senior hospital manager 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.