A grant from PetSmart Charities is allowing the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to help control the city’s feral cat population through a trap-neuter-return program to humanely and effectively reduce the feral cat population.
Animal Welfare League spokesman Patrick Cole said the $12,350 grant targets feral cat colonies in two communities, Arlandria and Sanger Avenue between Van Dorn and Beauregard streets on the city’s west end, and covers the costs of humane traps, transportation, spaying or neutering and educational materials. Alley Cat Allies has also provided some funding to target feral cats living in other area of the city.
“As an animal welfare organization, we look out for the safety and wellbeing of all animals, not just pets, and we care for feral cats, as well,” Cole said. “So it’s important to remember them when discussing animal welfare. They’re often looked over or forgotten, but they have a connection to people in the community.
"But we’re just trying to limit their growth and stop the population of the colonies so that future litters don’t come to the shelter or have a hard life growing up in the world.”
No city funds or general donations go to the program. Animal Welfare League staff are in the process of holding workshops in the targeted communities to educate local residents about the program and how they can help.
Many of the feral cat colonies in the city are cared for by local residents, Cole said. Through the program, feral cat colony caretakers will set out humane traps the night before spay/neuter days and bring the cats to the shelter, where they will be taken to a local veterinary clinic to be spayed or neutered. They then return to the shelter and released back into the neighborhood they came from 24 hours later.
“It’s really a volunteer effort from people who are managing these colonies and care about them,” Cole said.
Most feral cats were born in the wild and cannot be adopted, Cole said. However, any kittens or young cats that are somewhat socialized that are brought to the shelter through the program may be put up for adoption.
The Animal Welfare League is also accepting donations for the TNR program. Alexandrians can donate online or write a check with TNR in the memo area to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, 4101 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22304.
Fairfax County implemented a TNR program in October 2008 and has experienced positive results, including a 58 percent decrease in feral cat offspring the shelter's foster care program, according to the league.
For more information on the program, visit the program website.