JEFFERSON, Iowa -- A national cat advocacy group is aiding the city of Jefferson in installing a new program to deal with their feral cat problem.
The organization is called Alley Cat Allies based out of Bethesda, Maryland. They're helping the city start a trap, neuter, release program.
Until recently the city would euthanize unadoptable feral cats via gunshot. Alley Cat Allies says this program will better control the cat population.
That's good news for people like Claudette Sherlock who says she's now in over her head after caring for a family of strays.
“It's just gotten outa control and it scares me” said Sherlock.
Sherlock, like many Iowans, is an animal lover. She says a few years back she encountered her first family of strays.
“I saw these baby kitties and their mama, and I thought ‘oh my goodness what happened here, what do we got? I don’t want any cats right?’ Well they stayed a long time and when I could catch some I neutered and spayed them, but then you know how it is, it gets outta control” she said.
Sherlock says the problem grew, counting kittens, she says there are nearly 20 animals on her property. She says she can’t bring herself to stop caring for them.
“I gotta feed them, I can’t let them starve to death, especially when it's winter. Summer I'm a little more careful” said Sherlock.
In the TNR program cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and while they're under, have the tip of their ear removed.
“This is to indicate they've been through a trap neuter return program. After all that is done, they're returned to their outdoor homes” said Misty Christo.
Christo works for Alley Cat Allies out of Omaha. She says this program is not only more humane, but is more effective than simply killing the cats.
“Trap, neuter, return stabilizes the population. It results in fewer kittens being born, it also makes the cats less visible which means they're not engaging in the mating behaviors such as fighting, yowling, spraying, that type of thing” said Christo.
The cat population will then slowly die off, and the ones remaining will be less likely to spread disease.
The cost of putting this program into place is yet to be determined, but Alley Cat Allies say they can help Jefferson apply for funding grants.
Alley Cat Allies says Waterloo, Penora, and Beaman are currently running TNR programs.