Aug 21 – Wildcat colonies are a growing problem in Whitman County, and the County’s Humane Society has established a committee dedicated to controlling cat populations by non-lethal means.
Annie Lindsey, director of the shelter at the Whitman County Humane Society, said the new trap castration release program was in response to the emergence of colonies in rural areas as well as in Pullman.
“It’s getting bigger and it’s getting bigger faster,” she said of the wildcat problem.
As the name suggests, the Trap Castration Release Committee will send its members to these colonies to catch the cats, have them repaired, give them health checks, and drop them where they were found. The committee is chaired by local vet Nickol Finch.
This is a slightly different method compared to previous trap-spay and neuter release programs that required local residents to catch the cats themselves. Now a team of Humane Society staff, board members and volunteers will be on hand to take care of the trapping and transportation of the cats.
The traps are 3 feet long and 1 foot wide and will trap the cat if it steps on a metal plate, Lindsey said.
Lindsey said wild cat colonies, especially stable cats, thrive in rural communities. She also knows a few houses in Pullman where stray cats are fed.
Cat populations increase significantly in the spring, when the animals normally mate, Lindsey said. A cat usually gives birth to five or six kittens at a time.
The committee will release the cats back to their homes as the animals are often too wild to be adopted as companion pets. She said trying to adopt a wildcat was like forcing a squirrel.
Lindsey said there are a number of benefits to sharing them too. Keeping a colony intact prevents unfixed cats from entering the colony and ensures that the population does not grow. Every spring, residents should see a noticeable decline in cat populations, she said.
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“It can reduce your cat population by up to 60 percent,” she said.
Bringing the cats back to where they were found is also human, Lindsey said, as they are being returned to an environment where they already know how to find food, water and shelter. Plus, they can still be useful for rodent control.
Neutering them, giving them health checks and releasing them also limits the spread of disease, she said.
Whitman County residents who are aware of problem cat colonies should contact Lindsey at (509) 332-3422.
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