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Feral cat neutering project targets three cities

A feral cat nurses her kittens.
A feral cat nurses her kittens.
Marc Selinger

Thousands of feral cats will be sterilized in three U.S. cities -- Columbus, Ga., Philadelphia, and Tucson, Ariz. -- under a new initiative spearheaded by two national animal welfare groups.

Working with local agencies, Best Friends Animal Society and PetSmart Charities will provide staff, vehicles, humane traps and funding for trap-neuter-return (TNR), which aims to curb the outdoor cat population and reduce the number of felines being put down in shelters.

Pima County, Ariz., which includes Tucson, intends to spay/neuter 5,000 cats in the project's first year and become a “no-kill” county for cats within three years, Best Friends said Aug. 12. The county’s board of supervisors voted to approve the plan last week.

In Columbus, Ga., the goal is to sterilize 2,000 cats in each of the next three years. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has endorsed the TNR project on her Facebook page.

In Philadelphia, local agencies will spay/neuter 1,500 cats in each of the next three years, and Best Friends will perform an additional 2,500 surgeries.

The “community cats project” builds on TNR efforts that Utah-based Best Friends and Phoenix-based PetSmart Charities have already undertaken in three other cities: Albuquerque, N.M., Baltimore and San Antonio. Best Friends said that TNR in those cities has prevented thousands of cats from being killed at shelters.

“Albuquerque hasn’t killed a feral cat since we started the program, and the staff in San Antonio called me recently and said they have no kittens,” said Shelly Kotter, Best Friends’ community cat program manager.

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