Feral cats roaming the streets of Copperas Cove have been a contentious issue, but animal advocacy volunteers said their efforts are making a difference.
A weekly low-cost spay and neuter service offered by Kathy’s Kitties has resulted in more than 6,000 cats not reproducing over the last seven years, said owner Kathy Kwieran.
“You can see the results at in-take at animal control. It took us about two years to see a difference in the feral cat population in Cove,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t (spay or neuter) because they cannot afford a regular veterinarian.”
Kwieran offers spay and neuter services to feral cats for $45, which includes rabies vaccination, treatment for ear mites, fleas and worms as well as any additional medical treatments required. For feral cats, there is no additional charge if the cat is pregnant or “in heat.”
Kathy’s Kitties is run by volunteers, such as Aleea Best who donates eight hours of her time every Monday to care for the animals. “If you really think about the feral issue, the cats are here because irresponsible pet owners choose to leave their animals outside unsterilized or decide to dump them or move off abandoning them,” Best said. “This causes them to become dependent on anything to survive, whether it’s learning how to hunt or finding leftovers in a neighbor’s trash can.”
On Monday, the work of Kwieran, Best and the other volunteers resulted in 23 cats being spayed or neutered and kept 15 unwanted kittens from being born. Kwieran said she accepts 30 cats every Monday but sometimes the number has grown as high as 42.
But for the animal advocates, the work is never-ending. Kwieran said the number of cats she is spaying and neutering goes up annually. In 2013, Kathy’s Kitties “fixed” 1,107 cats compared to 848 cats in 2012; and 700-plus cats in 2011.
“We will help anyone with their cat regardless of finances. We specialize in taking care of homeless cats that people feed. They don’t want them to get pregnant and neither do we,” she said. “I am the only clinic in the area that does feral cats.”
Kathy’s Kitties offers a free trap/neuter/release clinic at 2 p.m. the second Sunday of each month when methods for safely trapping feral cats are taught. Kwieran said it is a city ordinance in Killeen that someone feeding a cat colony is required to register the colony with the city and take the TNR class.
Since Best started working with Kathy’s Kitties, she has helped spay or neuter 41 cats and prevented the birth of 35 unwanted kittens.
“Working at a shelter, I’ve seen a lot of terrible things and the only one to blame is irresponsible pet owners.” Best said.