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indy feral cats

Published in the May/June 2009 issue of The Pampered Pet Magazine.

the pampered pet magazine

Indy Feral Cats
by Lisa Maliga
© 2009

Are there feral [wild] cats living in your neighborhood? Who can you call to take care of them humanely? How are ferals different from domestic or alley cats? According to Lisa Tudor, founder of IndyFeral, “Unowned [stray and feral] cats and their offspring are the victims of abandonment, accidental loss or owned pets that are not sterilized and allowed to roam freely.”

There is a solution to this problem and it can be provided by IndyFeral. The overpopulation can be controlled through a method called TNR, Trap-Neuter-Return. The process involves humanely trapping the cat, an examination, neutering and vaccinating, ear-tipping [removing a tiny portion of the cat’s left ear tip], and then returning the feral cat to its natural habitat. This practice is endorsed by the American Humane Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Association, Cat Fanciers Association, and the Humane Society of the United States

Saving Ferals/Saving Lives!
"As part of our belief in respect and compassion for all living creatures, IndyFeral Inc. seeks to reduce stray and feral [wild] cat overpopulation through the non-lethal method of Trap-Neuter-Return [TNR], not trap and kill."

In the past, the alternatives to the feral cat problem have been harsh—extermination. But enough concerned people protested and came up with a viable alternative that is beneficial to the feral felines, animal lovers, and the community as a whole. The TNR way of helping cats and helping communities has been around since the early 1990s on both coasts. Lisa Tudor says, “I founded Indyferal in 2002 with the express purpose [of] changing the way feral cats were viewed and dealt with in our city. I was tired of the number of cats being killed in the shelters. TNR was working in other cities and I had faith there were like-minded people in Indianapolis who wanted to change the senseless killing of these animals.”

After the ferals have been neutered, they are returned to their colony. Volunteers, known as Colony Caretakers, provide long-term care, which includes food, shelter, and health monitoring. By carefully observing each colony, this ensures that any newly arriving ferals to the colony will be trapped, vaccinated, and sterilized. Over time, this allows the colony to decrease in size through natural attrition. The tame colony cats, especially the young ones, can also be adopted and given a home with cat lovers.

To run an effective organization dedicated to helping animals, Ms. Tudor relies heavily on volunteers. “We have hundreds of volunteer caretakers who feed and monitor stray cats at their homes or business. But we have a very dedicated core of roughly 30 people that make IndyFeral run on a day to day basis.”

Economics of IndyFeral
According to Ms. Tudor, “The stray cat population is actually being reduced now through TNR the greater emphasis of spay and neutering among owned animals.”
The Positive Impact of TNR and has been an asset to residents of the Indianapolis/Marion County area economically. Since 2004, IndyFeral has performed spay/neutering surgeries on more than 15,000 cats, resulting in a 30% reduction of euthanasia in the city shelter and saving taxpayers more than $287,222 as a result. In October 2005 the TNR Ordinance was passed allowing for TNR in the city. TNR provides a cost savings to the taxpayer by reducing the number of cats entering the shelter. The old method of trapping and killing cats is expensive and ineffective. The average cost to trap, feed, house, euthanize then dispose of a cat is around $150 for the city.

More importantly, IndyFeral is allowing the ferals to live out the rest of their lives. Over time, well managed colonies diminish in size through natural attrition.
IndyFeral is an animal welfare organization that is committed to making a positive impact throughout Central Indiana. Funded by grants and donations, Lisa Tudor is grateful to those who can help. “We have many volunteers who are very dedicated and committed to making a difference for homeless animals and the people who want to help them.”

The responsibility starts with us taking care of the pets that we do have. Bob Barker, former host of “The Price is Right” game show for 35 years always ended each show with these words: "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."

For those of you who would like to contribute to the care and feeding of feral cats, IndyFeral is currently accepting donations for dry cat food at all area Pet Supplies “Plus” stores.

If you are interested in helping IndyFeral with a monetary donation, here is the contact information:

IndyFeral Inc.
P.O. Box 30054
Indianapolis, IN 46230-0054
317-596-2300
Indy Feral

© 2009 by Lisa Maliga