Trap, neuter & release; foster homes for feral kittens

HAWLEY - So many alley cats! Call them alley cats, strays, feral, wild or just “homeless” kitties missing out on what those adored and maybe spoiled house cats enjoy (who seem to think they own the place), someone - appropriately named- is doing something about it.
Two years ago, in 2017, Carol Alley, of Hawley, founded the nonprofit C Alley Cats of Lake Wallenpaupack. Serving as president, she and her band of volunteers - animal lovers all- have been humanely reducing the stray cat population with the goals of getting them adopted when feasible, and capturing others to get them “fixed” so they can’t have kittens, before returning them to where they were found.
With their base centered in the Hawley - Lake Wallenpaupack region, C Alley Cats has reached north to Equinunk, northern Wayne County, south to Pocono Manor and west to the Scranton area.
Alley said that they can be called a “refugee of last resort” because they accept cats that would be euthanized if surrendered to a public animal shelter. Printed information she supplied states, “We are a no kill facility; any cat coming to us will remain with us until they are adopted no matter how long that takes.”
Sadly, our increasingly mobile society has increased the population of abandoned cats, Alley observes. They do a lot of trapping in private communities where summer residents have taken in a cat only to leave it behind.

TNR

They refer to their capture program as “TNR” which stands for, “Trap, Neuter, Release.”
Adult cats are safely trapped, neutered or spayed to prevent new litters, and vaccinated against rabies. The cats are returned to live out their lives where they were found.
Stray cats, she said, do not re-locate well to a new environment to fend for themselves. Cats are territorial, and they are accustomed to wherever they have found shelter and food sources. If taken away and not returned, eventually another stray cat that is not fixed, may fill the gap.
Preventing them from producing a new litter of kittens helps to stabilize and reduce the population in the wild. TNR also benefits the health of the animals.
A question was asked about the conflict between feeding song birds and having stray cats in the neighborhood. Alley cited a study that showed that contrary to the popular conception, the presence of cats in the neighborhood can help the bird population.
This is because the cats feed on the mice, chipmunks and snakes which go after the eggs in bird nests. Birds are also safe if they are not on the ground.
Any adult stray cats that are taken by TNR and are deemed to be adoptable, as well as feral kittens long enough to be socialized, are placed in foster homes.
TNR has been utilized in The Hideout community, Lake Ariel, where they have a contract to address the stray cat problem. Eighty cats were trapped and released after a visit to a vet, and 20 kittens were taken for foster care. She said their goal is to capture 200 cats in The Hideout next year.
This past year C Alley Cats captured over 200 other cats through TNR, in other locations besides The Hideout, and about 350 since they started. Close to 200 kittens have been fostered and placed in new homes.
During the first seven months of 2019, in addition to The Hideout project, they have conducted trapping at 15 locations.
Presently they are at for locations in Hawley, catching feral cats; 31 were taken at one location, At Beach Lake they took 27 through TNR. They are doing only a few small projects in Honesdale at this time.

Do your own

They have also issued 130 TNR vouchers for people to do TNR in their own neighborhood. C Alley Cats of Lake Wallenpaupack partners with Wallenpaupack Veterinary Clinic. The $55 voucher is redeemable for one spay/neuter surgery and one rabies vaccination. These vouchers may only be used for stray cats.
But how do they know they haven’t trapped someone’s pet cat? Alley said that they put out flyers that they are going to be doing trapping and try and talk to neighbors, Every cat that is trapped is checked against lost and found notices, and if there is a microchip.
If someone has lost a cat, they can call C Alley Cats to check.
Alley said she has been trapping feral cats for about 30 years. Two years ago, she said, she decided to organize and expand the effort, which led to forming C Alley Cats of Lake Wallenpaupack.

Foster cat parents

Stray kittens are placed with volunteer foster cat parents, to help the animals become acclimated to being with caring people, with the intent to find them a permanent home.
Volunteers are trained to care for the kittens and help the kittens learn to trust.  C Alley Cats works with medically challenged cats to help get their health stabilized and to train new adopters or current owners to be able to care for these cats at home.
Food and kitty litter are supplied.
A person needs only to have the place and time to devote to working with the kittens. Having pet cats and dogs, and children in the home help to prepare the kittens for adoption to a permanent home.
Kittens typically only stay for four to eight weeks depending on their age and socialization needs. “Feral kittens require intense work,” she said.
Temporary fostering may be needed for adult cars that are abandoned until they are adopted.
Special care is needed for “bottle babies,” orphaned or abandoned kittens that have been rescued before they are weaned.
Over 30 kittens and cats have been adopted this year. Several special needs cats and kittens were also placed with wonderful families, the first edition of their newsletter in July, reported. One of the cats went from being abandoned in a trailer park in a rural area to “living the life of luxury” on Park Avenue, New York City. Several cats found what they call the cats’ “forever homes” in Philadelphia.
They have about 10 active foster families at present.
”It is very rewarding to foster,” Alley said. “Even more so when they get adopted.”
Kittens and cats may be adopted for $60, but for August C Alley Cats has lowered the fee to $40, she said. All cats come fully vetted, having been spayed or neutered, and vaccinated.
She mentioned one example, “a beautiful lovable cat” named Sylvester who is waiting fro adoption. Sylvester is sex years old and weighs about 15 pounds. he’s a “tuxedo” cat, black with white markings. “It’s unknown why he hasn’t been adopted. He’s very person oriented,” she said. Unlike a kitten, Sylvester isn’t “hyper” but is very sociable. The cat was probably lost or abandoned.  

Other services

They also respond to emergency calls to rescue cats from harmful situations such as abandonment, abuse or being orphaned.
Periodically during the year they provide free training seminars on topic such as community cats, TNR, trapping techniques, managing a colony of feral cats, making a cat shelter, cat behavior modification and how to manage a cat’s medical conditions.
Donation of cat food is welcome for their emergency food pantry to help people trying to care for a colony, in times of financial difficulty.
In the fall they host a “Catathon” where volunteers help in constructing community cat shelters for feral cats in need. Individuals and groups can pay to sponsor a shelter or purchase a shelter for their own use. The cost is $25 to cover materials.
What about good-hearted feeding of stray cats? Alley advises that is good, but the cats need to be fixed; contact C Alley Cats for information on TNR.  Taming an adult, feral cat so it will overcome its fears, is a long process, if it can be done. Feline personality traits are a factor.  
Adoption events are held each month at Tractor Supply and PetValu in Honesdale. They are at Tractor Supply on the first Saturday of the month, and at PetValu on the third Saturday of the month.
Businesses and individuals may make monthly donations to “adopt a bed” for the daily care of individual cats.

Fund raising

Several fund raising events are coming up:
• Each month on a  different date they have a table set up at Lake Region IGA.
• They have a regular spot at the Honesdale Vendor and Craft show, held the first Saturday of the month at 3373 Lake Ariel Highway (Route 191) south of Honesdale, across from Roche Supply.
• A table will be set up at Wally Lake Fest, August 24.
• Oct. 19 they will be at the Western Wayne Craft Show, and on Oct. 26 at the Waymart Craft Fair.
• On Nov. 19, they will be at the Honesdale High School Band Craft/Vendor Sale. On Nov. 16 they will be at both the Wallenpaupack Area High School Craft Show and the Ladore Yard Sale in Waymart.
• On Dec. 17 they will be at the Ladore Holiday Craft Show in Waymart.

How you can help

There are many ways to help.
• Contact C Alley Catsto adopt a kitten or grown cat.
• Be a foster cat parent to help with caring for and socializing kittens to make them more adoptable.
• Make an indirect donation by selecting C Alley Cats of Lake Wallenpaupack as your charity of choice when using Amazon Smile or using your Lake Region IGA preferred shopper card. These companies will donate a portion of the sale to C Alley Cat.
• Volunteer to help with adoption events, fund raising events, cat shelter building, transport to vet clinics, trapping, crafting and administration activities. If you enjoy making crafts, they can be sold at C Alley Cats events to support the program.
• Purchase a low cost TNR voucher that will allow you to trap your now feral cat and take it to Wallenpaupack Vet Clinic to have them spayed or neutered.

To learn more

For more information, contact C Alley Cats of Lake Wallenpaupack, 203 Sunset Hill Rd., Hawley, by calling 570-226-6780; email calley@ptd.net; visit www.calley.webs.com or visit their Facebook page.