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The Granite Shoals Community Cat Committee is prowling the city, tackling the prolific feral cat population through the trap-neuter-release method. Forty cats have been processed so far and the committee plans to trap 80 more in April, but it’s unclear how many strays across the city need to be spayed or neutered.

The next set date for trapping is April 7.

The committee, created in January, has been humanely trapping cats using the TNR method, having them spayed/neutered and vaccinated and then releasing them back into their territory. Once a cat has been processed, its ear is clipped to identify it. 

TNR was developed as an alternative to euthanasia, and animal welfare advocates cite it as an effective way to manage feral cat populations. Even after the cats are neutered and unable to breed, they will still defend their territory against incoming cats, stabilizing the population and decreasing it over time.

Community Cat Committee Chair Michele Landfield briefed the Granite Shoals City Council on the group’s progress during a March 5 meeting. She noted that the community had been generous, donating enough supplies to aid all trappings in the near future. Enough funds exist to proceed with a 20-cat trapping and a 60-cat trapping, both in April, and the committee would conduct basic population surveys at the estimated nine cat colonies in the city.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response for supplies. We have everything we need at this time, which is awesome,” Landfield told the council. “We have to keep going. We can’t just trap 60 cats and then quit. We have to keep the ball rolling.”

The committee is working closely with Hope Animal Clinic and PetPals to coordinate effective neutering programs. A small building at the Granite Shoals Animal Control Center is being used as a “kitty shack,” housing up to 20 cats at a time while they recover from their procedures. A larger numbers of cats can be kept at PetPals and other local animal welfare organizations.

According to Landfield, the neuter/spay procedures are drastically cheaper when you do more animals at once: $110 per male and $135 per females at Hope Animal Clinic for 20 cats at a time and $55 for males and $90 for females at PetPals for at least 60 cats at a time.

As of now, the money for these surgeries is coming from community donations.

Landfield told that the Community Cat Committee is currently conducting population surveys on the number of free-roaming cats in Granite Shoals and that nine colonies have been identified. 

The Granite Shoals Wildlife Advisory Committee, once tasked with handling the feral cat problem, offered an initial count of about 400 felines. Hill Country Cats President Mary Ruwart estimated up to 1,600. Landfield is skeptical of the latter number but did agree that the city had “quite a few cats.”