October 24, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
46°F

Feral cat program in the works

Kristina Miller, of Brunswick, shows off the 5-year-old Maine Coon cat named “Ferris” she adopted from the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Friday. SPCA workers said the cat was abandoned last week in the parking lot at Buehler’s, in Wadsworth. All adult cats age 1 or older cost $20 to adopt. (DAN POMPILI / GAZETTE)

Kristina Miller, of Brunswick, shows off the 5-year-old Maine Coon cat named “Ferris” she adopted from the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Friday. SPCA workers said the cat was abandoned last week in the parking lot at Buehler’s, in Wadsworth. All adult cats age 1 or older cost $20 to adopt. (DAN POMPILI / GAZETTE)

MEDINA — An anonymous animal lover’s donation could help a local agency start to solve the county’s feral cat problem.

Stephanie Moore, executive director of the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the donor gave her $500 federal income tax return toward the formation of a trap-neuter-release program to help control the feral cat population.

“It’s in the infancy stage right now, but one of our cat donors got it started,” Moore said. “She’s a very private person but she donates quite a bit to us.”

County commissioners in November approved paying the SPCA $13,000 a year to take in stray cats, relieving the Medina County Animal Shelter of the job and eliminating the use of a gas chamber for euthanizing cats after public outcry.

But the SPCA has no room for feral cats and the officials say those pose the biggest problem.

Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley said he frequently hears from homeowners who have feral cats they’d like removed from their property.

“It is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “More needs to be done but I’m glad to see it starting.”

Moore said the solution is still to come though.

“Obviously, I need to raise way more than $500 to start the program,” she said. “I’m hoping to get some volunteers together who are interested in helping to trap and feed different colonies, and pay for spay and neuter and vaccinations.”

Moore said she has a meeting on April 30 to discuss those issues and more.

“We may talk about putting together a direct-marketing campaign to raise funds,” she said. “I’d like to have a few thousand in the bank to start.”

Moore said residents also need to be aware that cats trapped for neutering and spaying will be returned to the same place they were found.

She said it is critical to the animals’ survival and also a matter of Ohio law.

“If you move them off their grounds, they have trouble surviving because they get confused and they struggle as they try to find their way back,” she said. “And legally, you cannot pick one up and leave it elsewhere, because that is considered abandonment.”

Moore said that once a trap-neuter-release program is implemented, residents gradually will see the numbers of feral cats begin to dwindle.

In the meantime, she said the SPCA is running specials on cats to keep spaces open for new strays.

Right now, kittens less than a year old can be adopted for $40 and adult cats for $20.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.