Local volunteers join the neutral release program to help stop overpopulation.
Marina and Eric Gordon and her one cat moved to a fixer-upper in San Juan Bautista about 10 years ago. Soon after, a shopping spree got them on a course that resulted in the rescue of thousands of feral cats across San Benito County, a service they continue to this day.
During a run to the Home Depot, the Gordons noticed a large number of stray cats in the store. The manager told them that the people had dumped the cats there and the animals were reproducing uncontrollably.
“We thought, ‘These cats need to be fixed or there will be 50 or 100 cats here pretty soon,'” said Eric. “There can be five or six kittens in a litter. Within a year, you can have 200 cats with a pair of cats and their offspring. And of course they will all suffer because they will not find enough food to support themselves. We came back and caught them all, which took quite a while. We were a little new to it. “
Eric and Marina Gordon with traps for wild cats. Photo by Robert Eliason.
With no prior experience or resources, the Gordon’s Traps borrowed from a few friends. They captured the cats and then paid to have them repaired and vaccinated. Work with City cats At Morgan Hill they made sure that all cats found a new home.
Shortly afterwards, the couple relaxed with friends Bear hideout and talk about their adventure with the wild cats.
“Somebody told me, ‘we have all kinds of stray cats in town,'” said Eric. “We didn’t really notice her. We started looking and found 40 on a block. They were hard to spot in the city – cats are very good at hiding, especially when they are wild. And cats are adaptable, they know where food sources are, they know where protection is. “
The Gordons began looking out for groups of cats and developed skills for trapping them. While the couple are working on the project together, Eric is employed on weekdays, so a lot of the rounding up and care of the cats falls on Marina.
“Catching is not difficult at first when you find large colonies,” said Marina. “When you find 40 cats, set the traps and you will have a lot of them at once – 10 or 20 at a time. The hardest part is getting the last few cats. Often times, most cats are already fixed, so you end up with a feral cat or two and you have to work really hard to catch them. “
The Gordons said they catch an average of 300 cats a year, but catching the cats is only the first step in the process. Marina then takes them to the vet a few times at a time to check and fix them.
“I’ll be at the vet for 15 minutes to half an hour with each cat,” said Marina. “You have to fix the cat, then you have to check it for injuries. They check their health and teeth and treat them when they find a problem. We also have them scanned for microchips. “
The spay and neuter clinic in Hollister recently closed following the departure of her vet, leaving Marina to instead Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Monterey, getting up at 5 a.m. to be there by 7 a.m. for appointments.
In some cases, the vet may need to treat missing eyes or broken bones. Occasionally, a cat may be unable to be helped and will be euthanized. The Gordons fund much of the effort themselves, but they also receive money from the city of San Juan Bautista through an account with Pet friends.
One of their more complicated jobs is collecting newborn kittens from wild mothers, which requires an extra level of care and attention. If the mother is captured, the kittens will stay with her until they are weaned. Otherwise, the Gordons raise the kittens themselves. You have housed up to 40 cats at a time.
After the kittens are weaned, various rescue operations put them up for adoption. The mother is restrained and vaccinated, and then released where she was captured.
The Gordons have been so successful in containing the feline problem in San Juan Bautista that they are now taking calls in Hollister. They rely on donations from other animal lovers to do their services for this city that they said they haven’t given any financial support yet.
The Gordons work closely with them as volunteers who neutralize the trap SNIP (Spay Neuter Imperative Project), which operates an inexpensive mobile service called Snip bus. Founder Melanie Scherer was impressed by the couple’s efforts to reduce the number of wild cats in the district.
“Marina Gordon deserves a lot of credit for her work,” said Scherer. “She and her husband are perfect examples of those who use Snip Bus to help communities out with feral cat overpopulation. She constantly dedicates herself to many areas that are problematic. There is no one out there who is more aggressive in this area. What she and her husband do is amazing. “
As spring arrives, the Gordons prepare for the inevitable flood of feral cats that give birth – and the news Marina receives about them from the community Facebook siteand alerted them where they are. The traps are set and the couple’s commitment has not wavered.
“There will be kittens by the end of the month,” said Marina. “That’s the beginning, and then we’ll be busy until October and November. But we catch all year round. I do this because I think cats are the best animals and I don’t want them to suffer. This is my passion. ”
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