For the first time in 10 years, the Johnson County Animal Shelter euthanized no cats in a month.
May was the first kill-free month for cats, which is primarily due to the Johnson County Humane Society’s new spay and neuter program for roaming cats, animal control director Michael Delp said.
The humane society started recruiting cat caretakers in August. Volunteers catch cats to get them spayed or neutered and then release them back into the areas where they were caught.
The shelter works to find tame cats homes, and the humane society returns the others into feral cat colonies or releases them in barns, human society board president Janet Gorrell said.
Having the cats spayed or neutered reduces behavioral problems, such as fighting, cuts back on new litters of kittens and allows the wild cat population to die naturally, she said.
About 60 residents currently volunteer to feed the free roaming cats in their neighborhoods and help the humane society catch the animals so they can be spayed or neutered, Gorrell said. Volunteer cat caretakers feed the colonies, which range in size from one to 20 cats, she said. The larger colonies are in rural areas.
Euthanizing one cat costs about $60, Delp said. Not having to euthanize any cats frees up money for vaccinations and medical treatment for other animals, he said. In May 2006, the county spent about $8,000 to euthanize 141 cats, he said.
“It’s saving the taxpayers money. Secondly, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
The county has about 20,000 free-roaming cats, and the humane society’s goal is to get them all spayed and neutered and taken care of by a volunteer, Gorell said.
Residents interested in volunteering as a cat caretaker can contact the humane society at 535-6626.