With shorter and warmer winters becoming more common in the north, Minnesota is seeing a growing problem with feral felines, whose numbers are exploding all over the state.
Feral cats are domestic house cats that have been born and raised outdoors, with little or no social contact with humans, and that behave and act exactly like wild animals. They are the result of irresponsible pet owners who let their unaltered pets outside, where they give birth under porches, in garages or in other areas away from people. These wild kittens grow up wild and produce large numbers of wild kittens themselves. That breeding is just the start of the problem.
Capable of breeding at just six months of age and able to produce four litters of kittens each year, one female cat and all of her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in just seven years.
Historically, Minnesota's savage winters have kept feral felines from becoming a big problem, because few outdoor cats could survive here in the winter. However, that is changing and an explosion of "cats gone wild" is the result. These feisty feral felines are living in our neighborhoods, our forests and our industrial complexes, resulting in a situation that is not good for people, wildlife, or the cats themselves.
Because of their high rate of reproduction, lethal approaches that have tried to control the cats have been unsuccessful. One approach that has worked is called TNR, for Trap - Neuter - Release. This approach provides a non-lethal, cost effective and humane solution for controlling feral cat populations.
In a standard TNR program, feral cats are trapped, surgically sterilized (spayed or neutered), vaccinated for rabies, marked to identify them as a sterile feline and returned to their home territory. Volunteer cat tenders then continue to monitor them and provide food for them in order to reduce the impact the cats have on native wildlife.
Following growing complaints about feral cats, the City of Saint Paul is planning to pilot a new program that will provide free TNR services for feral cats. To do that, however, some minor changes to their animal control ordinances need to be made.
Existing animal ordinances in the City require that any cat brought to Animal Control be impounded for a period of 5 days. After that time, the cat is either returned to its owner, sent to a rescue organization for adoption or destroyed.
Saint Paul City Council member Debbie Montgomery on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 will introduce ordinance changes that will allow another option for cats that Animal Control deems to be feral - they will be able to be sterilized, marked, vaccinated and released by approved feral cat programs cooperating with the City.
Animal Ark began the first large-scale TNR program in Minnesota and has demonstrated success in controlling large feral cat colonies all over the state. If Montgomery's ordinance changes pass the City Council, Saint Paul Animal Control plans to pilot a new program, in cooperation with Animal Ark, to offer free TNR services for feral cats in the city.
Following approval of the new ordinance, TNR services will be available every Friday at the Animal Control center in Saint Paul. Dubbed "Feral Feline Fridays" the goal will be to sterilize as many feral cats as possible, and prevent the births of future generations of wild cats.
As of the summer of 2007, Animal Ark's Feline Feral Friends program has already sterilized nearly 100 colonies of feral cats in Minnesota and reports that following their spay/neuter surgery the free-living cats are always healthier and that they have better lives, without the constant production of more kittens.
Visiting the UK IN '99, and commenting on all the cats roaming near a hotel in the North of England to the manager, he informed me the town had a program of capture , as did mnay of the towns in England and the cats were either spayaed or neutored & tagged as appropriate and after recovery were released to roem.
Winters not being severe in some areas it seemed very appropriate. Adoption of feral cats would take years to tame them back to being house cats, assuming what age they are.
No idea as to the cats depletion on the bird & mice population.
It would also be great if this was available in Central Minnesota! Let me know what I can do to help!
It would be great if that same plan was going to be coming to North Minneapolis. I have brought cat's to the Humane Society, because for one, they are starting to get sick. It is a cold, even kitties that are being born have it. Eyes are milky, they can't breath to find food.
I have called the Humane Society and Animal Control, to see what can be done with these poor cat's. No one wants to help, a neighbor of mine told me he called animal control. A cat had kittens in his front yard in the bushes, animal control told him not to feed them, so they will die. "WHAT THE HELL"
If you could start a program on the north side, it would really help.
Thank you for your time!