Feline-good about cat management

CARIBOU, Maine — All across the state community animal shelters are hard at work managing Maine’s cat population. Advocates in Aroostook came together March 24 at the Caribou Public Library for a regional seminar on Effective and Humane Community Cat Management conducted by The Humane Society of the U.S.

“There are concerns about their impact on wildlife, there are concerns about public health risks and of course there are concerns about the animal welfare,” speaker Katie Hansberry, Maine state director for the Humane Society of the United States and vice president of the Maine Federation of Humane Societies said.

Local officials and agencies are mandated to protect public health and safety by managing animal control issues such as zoonotic diseases, nuisance animals and animals running at large, according to The Humane Society of the U.S.

Caribou’s Halfway Home Pet Rescue and Fort Kent’s PAWS Animal Welfare Society participated in a regional seminar Friday afternoon to discuss humane trap, neuter and release programs for unowned community cats.

“Ninety percent of our cats are domesticated cats and 10 percent are community cats,” Jean Cobb, PAWS board member said. “We do have two or three colonies we’re working with, but most of the cats were abandoned.”

“We want to make sure that cats are being humanely and effectively managed and that we’re working toward a lasting change impact so that we’re minimizing and lowering the number of cats that are living outdoors and that are unowned,” Hansberry said.

Shelters manage to help forgotten felines with little resources and it’s important for communities and municipalities to become involved.

“This is an issue that wears on limited resources for shelters, animal control officers, municipalities,” she said. “So if you have an effective and grassroots driven community cat program that’s working collaboratively with all these folks you can have a real impact and you’re actually going to be saving municipalities a headache and cost savings for them.”

Hansberry urges shelters to hit the streets and engage with their community, talk to town councilors about the importance of cat management and find ways to demonstrate their efforts are effective to help fund programs.

“There can be situations where if you’re not doing it in a targeted fashion with a collaborative approach, with community and municipal support and grassroots volunteers helping you out, you’re kind of spinning your wheels,” she said. “And while you will be helping some cats you won’t necessarily be having the impact that you’re looking for, which is decreasing and minimizing the number of cats that are living outside as community cats.”

If you see an unowned cat in need in your community call your local animal shelter for assistance.

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