It can sometimes be hard not to notice the feral cat population in Killeen. If residents head downtown after the sun sets, cats can be seen in streets and alleyways all over the city, in the parking lots of businesses and in sewer runoffs and drainage ditches.

Depending on who you ask, the feral cat population in the city numbers around 10,000, with some animal activists saying that number may be a low estimate.

The city is working to control the cat population, and one of the ways it is doing so is by using cat colonies.

“Cat colonies exist to humanely reduce the feral cat population in the city,” cat colony manager and animal activist George Fox said. “The whole goal is to get the cats fixed and then let them humanely age out and die in the colony. In many of the places we have done this in the city, we already see less cats.”

Cat colonies in the city must be registered and the manager must have a permit for the colony based on Killeen’s city ordinances regarding feral cats and cat colonies. According to Killeen Animal Services Director Ed Tucker, there are about eight authorized cat colonies registered with the city and the Animal Services department. Tucker said the first and most important step to getting registered as a cat colony manager is receiving permission from the property owner.

When people create a cat colony, they typically set one up where cats are already congregating. According to Fox, it is easier to feed cats where they have already decided to settle than to attract them to a new location.

A traditional cat colony has multiple feeding areas set up for the cats, usually covered and in a sheltered location. Cats living in colonies generally stay in the vicinity of the colony, but don’t wait in the immediate area to be fed. Most cat colonies in Killeen are in the northern part of the city, in the downtown area.

“People manage cat colonies because the ferals have such a horrible life living in the sewers,” animal advocate Linda Marzi said. “Feral cats live on lizards and stagnant water. But they also help keep populations of different vermin under control.”

There are a few things people need to do when trying to become a cat colony manager.

“The main thing is obtaining permission from the property owner, which can be difficult,” Tucker said. “If the colony is at your home, then you are the property owner, but let’s say you want to establish a cat colony that is near a shopping center. You might have a lot of businesses in the shopping center that each have a piece of the pie, but the actual complex is owned by a company in California, and that is who you have to talk to and get permission from.”

Once the property owner consents to having a cat colony on the property, the manager just needs to fill out some paperwork at the Killeen Animal Shelter to receive a cat colony permit.

Even though cat colony managers are required to register with Animal Services by the city, Tucker said, he is sure “there are several unauthorized cat colonies in the city, too.

“If we find an unregistered cat colony, we don’t cite them right away,” Tucker said. “We try to work with them and give them time to get all the paperwork in order. I have one person I have been working with for several months who is just finishing up the process. But if people don’t follow the ordinance and don’t try to, we will eventually cite them.”

Fox said cat colonies are one of the best ways to help control the feral cat population in Killeen.

“There is no real alternative to cat colonies in the city,” he said. “A person can go down to the shelter and buy a cat trap for $50, but cats can breed faster than you can trap them and get them fixed.”

The cat colony manager traps the cats and pays for them to get fixed. The colony manager takes the cats to one of the vets in the city.

There is no fee associated with acquiring a permit to manage a cat colony; the animal shelter only requires permission from the property owner and for the prospective manager to fill out the necessary paperwork. Once the colony has been established, Animal Services requires that all animals in the colony be fixed and that they have their ears tipped to mark that they belong to a colony.

“We don’t have as many permit holders as we should; I am probably the only two-permit holder in the city,” Fox said. “We should have people all over the city doing this to help manage the cat population.”

(7) comments

George Fox

As is always the case with those who hate cats or any other animal they have NO PLan. TNR works. I have been doing it for almost 25 years in different parts of our great city. When I leave there are less cats. You fix all you can, remove the kittens and take out the cats that are sick. The whole purpose of this is to humanely reduce the number of cats. Yes we will not get them all, yes we do have plenty of cats but at least we are doing something. Every cat fixed is a cat that will not have babies. 10,000 may be high but it does not matter because we all know that there is work to be done. It will help if you stop complaining and help us do something about the cats.

Champhibian

The fact that the local animal control dept is called the "Kileen Animal Shelter" should be the first clue as to why there are 10,000+ cats. Be sure to carefully document the miraculous population reduction by having colonies, because it would be the first such instance ever documented. The utter pontification that there is no choice but to have colonies should be explained to every pest control professional and feral hog hunter so they can be told how they're going about it all wrong. !0,000 cats and people are going to fill out paperwork to be cat colony managers and pay for them all to be sterilized? Does the permit process vet the applicants to determine if they have the emotional capacity to earnestly try to dry up the supply of cute cuddly kittens? Or are they just a bunch of the kind of people who typically graze their low-maintenance pets all over property they don't own? Will any money be set aside to compensate children who come down with those terrible toxo-induced eye infections? Because you know, euthanasia of cats prevents that and you're obstructing euthanasia. This all really sounds like a desparate attempt to unload liability onto taxpayers.

Nothing2doINkilleen

previous comment was written in response to those written by Vermin Killer

Nothing2doINkilleen

I've read articles like this, and I know George Fox. TNR has worked, and yet, as you say, people still dump animals. On that you are correct. Because we are a throwaway society--humane people will step in. The same culture in Killeen that throws trash out the window on the access road is the same culture that dumps cats. I read a lot of criticism in the previous three posts, but I don't see your solutions. Until you and those like you step up to the plate, and help pay the shelter for humane euthanization (that means two injections, not the one in the stomach that the city pays for and creates a lengthy death). I'm writing this in search of a dialog instead of a laundry list of complaints. What can be done to make it better for all of us, and the animals?

Vermin Hunter

One SLIGHT problem: The very same reason that trap & kill fails is the very same reason that TNR fails. You just cannot trap them faster than they breed, are dumped by criminally irresponsible pet-owners, or as fast as they out-adapt to any trapping method ever invented by man. ANY method dependent on trapping is doomed to fail before you even start. But hunted-to-extinction most certainly works. It even worked on something as small and prolific as The Rocky Mountain Locust that used to darken they skies of half of N. America at one time. A simple 50-cent per bushel bounty on them made them no more. It'll work even better and far faster on targets far larger and breed even far slower -- like COMMUNITY-VERMIN cats.

Here is glaring proof of how, as cat-hoarders so often and mindlessly respew, "Trap-Neuter-Release is the most effective means of managing feral cat populations. In fact, it is the only proven way to do so."

The residents of the UK who invented TNR in the 1950's have been relentlessly practicing that failed ideology nationwide for over 60 years now. And all they have managed to do with TNR is DOUBLE their vermin cat populations -- from 4.1 million vermin cats in 1965 to 8.1 million vermin cats in 2015. (One site claims 10.5 million today!) And to help, all this time they are still killing them in shelters and legally shooting them in rural areas under their animal depredation-control laws. By foolishly hoping and praying that their very own TNR concept will reduce vermin cat populations someday they have now even driven their one and only NATIVE cat species to extinction with their invasive-species vermin "moggies" (feral house-cats) -- with less than 19 "Scottish Wildcats" left in the whole world. (Along with 421 other species that they have already made extinct in the UK in the last 200 years -- OVER TWO SPECIES PER YEAR GONE FOREVER just due to British cultural beliefs, practices, and values.) All the while they still insist that practicing their failed TNR policies will still save their "Scottish Wildcat" from being wiped from the earth forever. You can kiss their "Scottish Wildcat" good-bye too now because 19 individuals is not even enough RNA diversity for a viable/successful species anymore -- they are already EXTINCT. (Laughably ironic if it weren't so pathetically, globally, and permanently sad. The population of the UK have made themselves into the ecological-laughingstocks of the whole world.)

Nice plan. TNR sure does work, doesn't it!

You know that saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The British have proved the failure of their vermin cat-insanity for over 60 years now. You too can be just as ecologically destructive, ignorant, and just as insane as the inbred mentalities of the Toxoplasma gondii brain-damaged moggie-licking British by practicing and promoting their failed-belief in their TNR concept.

Vermin Hunter

When/If you find out that your elected-officials are really just disney-cartoon-educated, spineless, cat-licking imbeciles (who deeply swallow the unsubstantiated claims of mentally-deficient, manipulative, and LYING cat-hoarders), those who are in favor of destroying everyone's property and lives, torturing to death all our native wildlife with their community-vermin cats, and spreading 3dozen+ deadly diseases that community-vermin cats spread to humans today, killing off all your NATIVE cat-species with feline diseases, and rare marine mammals (seals, dolphins, whales, even manatee) and inland otters from cats Toxoplasma gondii parasite; then if you live next-door to a TNR cat-hoarder here's some further help for you to PERMANENTLY solve the problem that these demented and astoundingly disrespectful TNR cat-hoarders cause before they ruin your lives even further -- until the next election.

Just Google for this complete string (include the quotation marks):

feral cats "learned to evade all trapping methods" "Licensing and laws do nothing" "SSS and TDSS Cat Management Programs" "legal on every square foot"

I have posted that valuable information on hundreds, if not thousands, of sites that bring-up the issue of community-vermin cats.

Therein you'll find every effective method that you can employ to finally and permanently solve this invasive-species vermin cat problem completely in under 2 seasons of anyone’s time — no matter what laws govern your lives, no matter where you live, no matter how many cats infest your lands. And at costs affordable to any individual, any community, any nation. It worked 100% where I live -- and it only cost me 1/3rd-cent PER CAT for hundreds of disease-infested vermin cats infesting my lands. Total cost less than the price of two starbux coffees.

Note: DO NOT just repel them or dump them elsewhere. That is just as irresponsible, inconsiderate, immature, and ILLEGAL as those that made those community-vermin garbage-cats into your problem. Repelling stray cats or dumping them elsewhere just makes them into someone else’s problem or our valuable native wildlife's problem. Everyone needs to become an adult for once in their sad and sorry spineless lives and solve it permanently for everyone. I for one know that NO CAT that touches even one paw to my lands will ever become a problem for any other living thing on earth ever again. All my neighbors (and wildlife) thanked me greatly for this. I have effectively turned my lands into a 100%-fatal cat-trap for any cat within miles around. The eradication of hundreds of these vermin in the whole area (collared or not, for you must destroy all collared ones too, they are the very source of every last vermin feral cat) was so complete and effective that I’ve not seen nor heard even one cat for miles in OVER NINE YEARS now. So much for that deceptive, manipulative, and mythical "vacuum effect" LIE of theirs, eh? Hunted-To-Extinction WORKS!

Enjoy your 100% vermin-cat-free lives once again!

Vermin Hunter

In what universe is throwing cats under the wheels of cars, forced to drink a neighbor's antifreeze, frozen to death,, or thrown into the jaws of coyotes considered humane "no kill"? That's not "no kill"; it's just an animal-torturing hypocrite's, self-serving, out-of-sight-out-of-your-minds, makes-you-feel-good solution.

Do you see pyramids in the distance? Are you ALL neck-deep in DeNile? I doubt you even see the pyramids, you're ALL in over your heads and can't even see any reality anymore.

Enjoy your suffering, maimed, mutilated and dead cats. It's what you want. You keep begging for it, planning for it, and relentlessly promoting it. Why you aren't all thrown in prisons yet for animal abuse and animal torture is beyond me. Maybe they're just still busy taking names.

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