Wild cats caught in Pratt

Gale Rose
Barb Prater, Pratt Area Humane Society board member, writes up an identification tag for the two day cat Nip and Tip program designed to capture unsocialized cats, get them spayed and neutered and vaccinated then return them to the area they were captured. Volunteer Travis Ford holds a towel off the cage so Prater can attach it to the cage. Surgical procedures were carried out at the High Plains Veterinarian Clinic which donated their facility for the event.

A combined effort among cat owners, volunteers and veterinarians resulted in the catch, spay or neuter, then release of more than 30 unsocialized cats last weekend in Pratt

On Feb. 7 and 8, feral cats were caught as part of the Pratt Area Humane Society's "Nip and Tip" program, designed to decrease the stray cat population in Pratt, according to veterinarian Pam Howell who helped with the event.

"This is the only way we can use to reduce the cat population," Howell said. "Through time and attrition, their numbers should go down."

The "tip" part of the program is the clipping the tip of the left ear of the cat. This is an identification mark that allows people to immediately identify cats that have been through the program and don't need to be captured again.

This program is aimed specifically at unsocialized cats and not for owed cats that have been socialized. Several veterinarians will take part in the spaying and neutering portion of the event.

Cages will be placed at prearranged locations in Pratt where cats were already being fed. The animals will be trapped in cages on Friday and the surgical procedures will be done on Saturday.

"We worked with the property owners and the people that take care of the cats," Howell said. "We are doing all the trapping for this. We do everything as a team. We set up traps and get them when we can."

The volunteers never touched the cats when they were awake. They were trapped in cages then given an injection anesthesia so they were asleep during the procedures. The animals tend to be very upset so the anesthesia is necessary.

The cats were given dewormer and vaccinated for rabies and distemper.

High Plains Veterinarian Services donated their facilities, time, staff and supplies for the event. From 15 to 20 people helped with the trapping and surgical procedures.

There was no timetable for Nip and Tip. The event was over when the last animal surgery was done.

There are no numbers available on how many unsocialized cats currently roam the streets of Pratt. Howell said she was collecting data on where colonies were being located.

"I just know through observation. People call the Humane Society because they are concerned about there being too many cats or they are marking areas where people don't want marked," Howell said. "A few cats are okay but a lot of cats are not okay."

In conjunction with this program, cat owners are encouraged to get their pets spayed or neutered.

One of the problems with so many free roaming cats is they get sick and inbreed. They are not sanitary. They just keep multiplying and multiplying. The spread out through neighborhoods and get into yards and people don't want that, Howell said.

Cats can carry intestinal parasites and also rabies. But is would be very unusual for an unsocialized cat to bite someone because they usually run away. It is always wise to wear shoes when going out onto dirt.

Funding for this event is made possible, in part, by a donation from John Dauner in memory of his late wife, Kimberly Dauner.

This program has been used here before but not very effectively. The program was also tried in Iuka several years ago with good success.

This program is just getting started and a goal is to continue it to decrease the unsocialized cat population.