Feral cat concern

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Feral cats are a growing issue in some parts of the Suncoast. A local organization is working to trap the cats, fix them and put them right back where they found them.

"We work in the community, feet on the streets, in the mud with the traps."  Theresa Foley literally herds cats. As the top dog for the Venice Cat Coalition she is seeing more feral cat colonies in places like Venice, North Port and Charlotte County. "They start out with four cats and then six months later got 24 cats and then a year later they got 40 or 50 cats."

That usually doesn't work out so well. "Everyone around them like their neighbors and businesses are angry and upset."

So the coalition is working with residents. They are picking the cats up by trapping them. "They step on that silver plate and back door goes down." But instead of sheltering them where wild cats often go to kitty heaven, they are returning most of them. Only this time without the ability to multiply. "We can kind of begin to control the population growth and the numbers go down. The cats are healthier and the nuisance behaviors decline."

Volunteer vets are spaying and neutering around 100 per month for the coalition. "It's huge. I don't even believe it myself how many we do."

Those in places where cats don't fit or where there are too many, home are found. Recently some local barns with rodent problems. "People are happy, the horses are happy, the cats are safe. The rats are not real happy about it."

Foley and the not for profit do it without a cent of government assistance. Continually needing volunteers, the vets, and donations. "If they are willing to work with us then we bring the tools that they need."

Feral cats will be the focus of a town hall meeting in North Port Saturday. It runs from 11am to 1pm at the North Port Library.