Animal consultants: Depart stray cats alone


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An episode of the short cat film series “The Cats That Rule The World” deals with stray cats that are being nursed to health by prison inmates in the United States. (April 8th)


Warmer weather means more people are on the streets – along with more stray animals.

But Colin Berry, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, warns that just because an animal is outside doesn’t necessarily need help, especially when it comes to cats.

“Most have homes and should be left alone, and most healthy cats can thrive on their own,” Berry said.

A sick cat is easy to identify, she said, and can be brought to the shelter during normal business hours as long as it is contained.

The public can call the Humane Society Resource Center at 301-733-2060 if they have questions or need help with specific situations.

The Humane Society recently released a notice about “kitten season” in which the shelter sees an increase in kittens.

Kittens typically rely on breast milk for nutrition until six to eight weeks of age, and it is uncommon for a mother cat to abandon her babies. If she is not around, the mother is likely to be looking for food or waiting for people to leave the area.

Berry advised against “kidnapping” kittens and suggested viewing them remotely for extended periods of time before attempting to intervene.

“Most of them have mothers somewhere,” she said. “But when there are flies or mosquitos on the kittens, there is a problem.”

The space in the shelter is limited, especially at this time of the year.

“We need space for the animals that really need help,” said Berry.

If a cat has the tip of its ear, it has already been spayed or neutered and vaccinated as part of the Humane Society’s Trap Neuter Return or TNR program.

Berry called the program “critical” to stabilize the stray population and said the goal was “zero growth”.

More than 470 cats completed the TNR program in 2021, with a goal of 700, she said. The program is fully funded through fundraising and adoption fees.

The Humane Society also has a contract with the Washington County government to provide animal control services, including scanning for microchips to determine if the animal is owned or possibly belongs to a colony of cats.

Non-sociable or non-adoptable cats can be housed as part of the shelter’s Barn Buddies, who house the animals in barns and farms across the county.

City lost

While cat colonies are a fact in neighborhoods and areas across the county, Hagerstown discourages strays from congregating on city-owned lots like parks.

Hagerstown communications officer Wes Decker said his parks in an email dated 6th. “

Stray animals pose a potential health hazard to the public, and the city’s protocol provides for animals to be removed from their properties if they are found to be a nuisance or a safety concern, Decker said.

Any removal of animals from city property is monitored by the head of the department that initiated the removal process, he said.

Decker said the city is hiring contractors licensed by the state of Maryland who must follow state-mandated rules and regulations to maintain their license.

Liz Stefanik, president of PurrHaven Rescue in Maugansville, recently raised concerns with the city over several cats that were caught and removed from Hagerstown City Park in March.

Stefanik said she learned that four cats were weaned on a Boonsboro farm without first going to the Humane Society for a health or microchip check.

In early May, PurrHaven received permission from the city to remove several cats from the park in order to neuter, vaccinate and microchip them.

By Friday, the rescue had removed six cats, one of which gave birth to six kittens within two days of their removal, and at least two others who were breastfeeding and released to reunite with their kittens.

Stefanik said the two nursing cats and their kittens will be recaptured, as will a male stray that the rescue has identified.

Stefanik said in an email dated May 13th that stray cats always walk through the city park and many live in the adjacent neighborhood.

“They are hiking. So removing these issues doesn’t solve the problem of never having cats on the property, ”she said.

Decker said in an email last week that in the event of a similar situation, the city would hire a licensed contractor to catch the cats and deliver them to the Humane Society as the city’s new “standard operating code”.

Hagerstown follows the Washington County Animal Ordinance.

After speaking with the Humane Society, Decker said the city had concluded that it was “in the best interests of all parties” and “makes sense to work with the agency best suited to deal with the strays after their removal is “.

Decker said unless stray animals are on town owned property, the Humane Society should be contacted with concerns.

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