HUDSON–As we swelter through this summer, the feral cat population of Columbia County is growing, with kitten season in full swing. Care facilities such as AnimalKind and the Columbia-Greene Humane Society are aiding the plight and striving to address the issues these colonies of felines face through vaccinations and community support.
Kitten season consists of the summer months as cats tend to give birth when the weather gets warmer. The boom of kittens increases the need for humane methods to regulate the populations of cats. While kitten season does not typically affect the operations of these care facilities, according to Katrin Hecker of AnimalKind, it warrants an increase of humane methods to keep the population at bay.
In 2018, AnimalKind rescued 1,004 animals, 992 cats and 12 dogs, according to data listed on the organization’s website; 2017 and 2016 recorded similar rates, making prospects for 2019 similar.
As a non-profit organization, donations from the community to AnimalKind go directly toward spay and neuter procedures, emergency rescues, food banks and rescue operations.
When a feral cat colony is located methods such as ‘trap, neuter, return’ or TNR, are used by AnimalKind in an effort to control the number of feral cats and reduce the spread of illnesses like rabies and distemper, a highly contagious parvovirus that affects the nervous, immune, and gastrointestinal tracts of cats. The method consists of humanely trapping the cats, spaying or neutering them, vaccinating and notching their ears for identification, followed by “back into their known environment” according to Hecker, the founder of Animal Kind.
This method began around 20 years ago and AnimalKind says it was is one of the first organizations to utilize the method in this area.
The process also calls for monitoring the colony afterward to supply food and implement TNR when new cats come in. Using humane methods to prevent disease is the primary focus of both AnimalKind and the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. During kitten season, TNR is used heavily by both AnimalKind and Columbia-Greene Humane Society (C-GHS).
Community members are able to bring feral or stray cats to the C-GHS and spay or neuter and vaccinate cats for a low cost. Ron Perez, president of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, says this program has assisted over 25,000 cats in Albany, Columbia, Greene and Berkshire counties over the last 14 years. This has resulted in a “decline in the indiscriminate breeding of cats” in recent years, he says. The path these animals take is dependent on their status of feral or stray. A stray cat is defined as a cat that has been socialized with people, however has been separated from that contact.
Ms. Hecker defines a feral cast as a “cat that has been born outside in the world, never was exposed to human contact… therefore it is very skittish.” The release portion of TNR is used in regards to feral cats, while stray cats are hoped to be once again established with humans. She established AnimalKind with the mission to aid this plight in mind.
AnimalKind is the only organization in the area that will take in stray cats with the hope of adoption. Kittens tend to be placed in foster homes due to their weak immune systems and are infrequently in the facility except for treatment. This decreases the potential for a kitten to catch an illness from a rescued cat being brought into Ms. Hecker’s care.
Community members are able to assist these colonies of feral cats by contacting AnimalKind at 518- 822-8644, at www.animalkindny.org or AnimalKind on Facebook for further assistance or reach out to gain information on how to foster kittens.
The Columbia-Greene Humane Society accepts food donations and will provide pet food to anyone in need. For more information call 518-828-6044 or www.cghs.org.
AnimalKind is at 721 Warren Street, Hudson. Columbia-Greene Humane Society is at 111 Humane Society Road off state Route 66 just west of the intersection with Route 9H. Call for hours.
Both both organizations also actively use social media platforms as a way to reach the community.