NORWICH – A local volunteer group will be setting traps this week in Norwich as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the feral cat population.
Trap, neuter, release (TNR) is a program used by All Animals Matter (AAM) to help control the population of feral cats.
Cats are trapped, taken to a veterinary clinic and spayed and neutered. After recovering the animals are released where they were found, or adopted. This prevents the cats from breeding and curbs population growth.
All Animals Matter is a non-profit organization located in Oxford. The group has provided 15 traps for the TNR operation.
AAM was founded by Diane Troxell in 2010. The organization provides spaying and neutering, emergency vet services for cats and dogs, as well as a pet food bank. They are currently serving Chenango, Delaware, and Otsego counties.
In 2020, AAM was able to assist in the spaying and neutering of 550 cats. In 2021, they plan to hold two clinics a month dedicated to spaying and neutering.
The charity has partnered with Community Cats, a Norwich-based group focused around the feral cat population, to set the traps in Norwich. Animal Care Sanctuary, an organization in Pennsylvania, will be transporting the cats to their facility for spaying and neutering.
"Traps are going to be around, there's going to be 15 of them, they're going to bring them to my building in Oxford ... my daughter Erin is coming over with her van from the Delaware Valley Humane Society and we're going to load them up in the van and bring them to ACS in Pennsylvania," said Troxell.
Some residents have expressed concern about the trapping efforts, with some owners worried their pets may be taken by accident.
Community Cats and AAM volunteers said each cage will be clearly marked with the location the cat was trapped, so it can be returned. They will also be taking pictures of each cat, in case someone's pet gets caught by mistake. However, a small number of the animals may be placed in homes. Volunteers said they currently have homes for around half a dozen cats.
To prevent re-trapping, clinics do what is called eartipping. After the cats are caught, the very tip of an ear is removed so workers know it has already been fixed.
"If you catch one and you notice it's missing the top of an ear, it's already been trapped," said Donna Given, a seven year volunteer veteran.
Facebook posts have also been spread, alerting pet owners of the TNR efforts and warning them to keep their cats indoors. Traps will be set today and Thursday.
AAM operates with the help of public donations. Just recently, Wal-Mart donated $250 towards the TNR project. Several Chenango County residents have sent in donations as well.
"We have the money and we're going to do it," said Troxell. "We've got to help these cats."
In addition to spaying and neutering the feral cats, AAM is also paying for the animals to receive rabies vaccines.
"As a group we felt that was a community health standpoint, to give them rabies shots," said Given.
"They're kind of tired of seeing so many cats in the city that are abandoned. People move and leave them behind unfortunately," said Troxell.
Volunteer Donna Given said, "just seeing them out on the street" makes her want to help.
AAM does more than just contribute to TNR efforts. They also provide cat and dog food to needful pet owners. This Thursday, they will be participating in the Oxford food drive for the first time.
The Oxford food drive will be held at Kutik's Honey Farm, and will run from 1 to 4 p.m. The food drive will be providing dairy products, Chobani yogurt, produce, non-perishable food products, and dry cat and dog food provided by AAM.
"This is the first time we've been a part of that, and I'm really excited about it," said Troxell.
All Animals Matter will also be holding spay and neuter clinics on June 3 and June 17, at their Oxford facility. All cats must be brought in a hard-shell carrier. Cost is $75 for females, $55 for males. They will also be providing rabies shots for $13 each. Or, there is a pay what you can option.
More information about All Animals Matter and their upcoming events can be found on their website at www.allanimalsmatterinc.com, or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/allanimalsmatter.inc.