Lake Community Cats is redoubling its efforts to control the area’s cat population.
This time around, it aims to tackle the abundance of animals living in trailer parks and apartment complexes.
“The situations are different but give the same result,” said Community Cat Companions president Cindy Valerio, who is also executive director of Community Cats of Lake and Ashtabula counties. “Owners do not sterilize or neuter their pets and do not allow them to roam or abandon them, resulting in generations of stray and feral cats. Other residents are responsible for feeding the cats. Neighbors complain and management responds by ordering to stop feeding. None of this stops the problem.
“We realize that the problem will not be resolved in either type of multi-use property unless it is stopped at the source – (making sure) that the cats owned are spayed.”
Operation Snip & Tip
One such initiative is Operation Snip & Tip in Madison. This is a free sterilization and neutering program for trailer park cats, whether owners or feral.
It was created by Community Cats of Lake County and Ashtabula with the goal of reducing the disproportionate number of kittens collected from Madison trailer parks by the group.
“We have sterilized 38 cats and removed 10 kittens from the first draft so far (mid-June),” said Valerio. “There are six to nine adults and another litter of kittens left that will be removed once they are old enough to be fostered. It’s just a trailer park.
The group received a few small grants from the Petco Foundation and Caroline’s Kids Pet Rescue for this purpose – enough to repair 100 cats – and requested additional funding to expand the program.
The animals are trapped, sterilized and vaccinated at no cost to the park management, and returned to their outside home or placed for adoption.
“We are targeting the area where we have the most problems,” said Valerio.
Mentor Community Cats tries a different approach with the apartments.
The group recently approached city code enforcement staff to ask property managers to require the sterilization of tenants’ pets.
Code enforcement supervisor Tom Vermylie said he recommended they write a letter introducing themselves to owners and explaining their mission and procedures for controlling the feral cat population.
“I informed MCC that instead of approaching the issue from an enforcement perspective, it would probably be more effective to be proactive and ask apartment owners to add a clause to their leases. regarding the sterilization of pets, ”he said. “Therefore, landlords can hold tenants responsible for their pets in the apartment building.”
His office receives a few complaints a month about feral cats.
Apartment complexes are often inundated with outdoor cats that have been abandoned by people who have moved, or cats that have been dumped on the property, according to the letter to apartment management.
“Surprisingly, an unsterilized cat and her offspring can, over a period of five years, produce over 10,000 cats! it reads.
The organization suggests that apartment seekers provide proof that the animal has been sterilized and, preferably, microchipped when signing the lease. This would also be the case when a current tenant wishes to obtain additional pets.
Mentor Community Cats was founded in 2015 in response to a situation in an apartment complex, and the group continues to trap in several. Since 2017, it has been carrying out a trap, neutralization and release program on behalf of the city.
“We recently helped a resort that had asked residents to stop feeding a colony of mostly friendly cats on the property,” said Valerio. “Their plan was to trap and kill the cats. We were able to get management consent to allow feeding until we could trap and remove them. “
The withdrawal was possible because the cats were previously owned, she noted. Fifteen cats were removed and several of them were pregnant.
“These were abandoned cats that would not have been able to breed if management had demanded sterilization prior to rental,” she said.
Between 2015 and 2020, the Lake County organization trapped and treated nearly 4,000 cats, of which 1,300 were adopted.
For more information on Lake Community Cats services, visit lakecountycommunitycats.org.
Mentor-based Lake Humane Society also offers TNR services. To learn more about this program, visit lakehumane.org.