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The Cat’s Meow: Dealing with a kitten overload


We have 34 kittens at our facility, on top of the adult cats we have had for some time, and at least 60 kittens waiting to come in. And the calls just keep on coming.

The City of Las Cruces encourages responsible animal ownership through: owner identification and licensure; population management primarily through sterilization; humane care; vaccination against rabies; and physical control of pets.

 There is also an “abandonment” ordinance making it unlawful to abandon a pet, but when a pet's owners have not gone through licensing steps, including microchipping, it is impossible to identify and locate them.

The most serious deficiency in the above guidelines for responsible pet ownership in Doña Ana County is population management. Simply stated, Las Cruces and the surrounding area has a serious cat overpopulation problem. There are too many cats to care for, and the most effective solution to this problem, sterilization, is not being implemented on a scale sufficient to resolve the problem.

At Cat's Meow, many calls we receive are from people who have found a momma cat with kittens in their yard or garage or underneath their porch. A public service announcement put out by Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley has instructed people to leave the litter alone and call one of the rescues for help. The rescues are overflowing!

A large part of the problem is that people are not getting their pets spayed or neutered, either because they don’t think it’s necessary because they intend to keep their pets inside (escapes happen, and sometimes are abandoned when owners change location) or because they cannot afford to have it done (veterinary care can be very expensive).

There are programs such as SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Program) for low-income residents. The demand is so high, their budget becomes stretched, as they do rely on grants and donations.

So, really, when it comes down to it, ordinances are only as good as the budget to enforce them. And there are so many cats!

We, at Cat’s Meow, make sure that every cat adopted from our facility is spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. We have been holding clinics to make that happen (largely at our expense) not only for our adopted kittens but when there are some slots available we offer to sterilize other cats as well.

Feral cats

Stray cats are not feral cats, ferals are not strays. . .

A feral cat is one that was born outside and has never had interaction with a human.

Kittens born of a feral momma are not necessarily destined to become feral unless they don’t get human interaction. Feral cats have lots of kittens and we have taken in as many as we can.

There is a program that helps to reduce the feral cat population, and it works! It's called TNR -- Trap, Neuter and Release.

Not a lot of people are aware of how bad cat overpopulation is here. It is going to get worse (is getting worse) if something isn’t done about it. There is a group doing TNR here (“Broken Promises”: https://bestfriends.org/our-work/supporting-network-partners/broken-promises-sw), but they cannot handle the load by themselves.

If our cat population is greatly reduced through sterilization, fewer will have to be euthanized and our shelter can start moving toward being a “no-kill” shelter.

Visit www.streetcathub.org to learn about a group in Albuquerque that has had a lot of success in reducing their cat population through TNR. In fact, we have recently transported a few adoptable cats to Albuquerque to fill their needs. Imagine that.

About The Cat’s Meow

Michelle Corella and other volunteers at The Cat’s Meow Adoption Center have found homes for hundreds of cats and kittens since the facility opened in October 2014 at 2211 N. Mesquite St., a bit south of the intersection of Mesquite Street and east Madrid Avenue.

Send donations to The Cat’s Meow, P.O. Box 3166, Las Cruces, N.M. 88003. You can also donate online at www.thecatsmeowlascruces.com.

Contact Corella at 575-640-0011, 575-639-3036 and corella@zianet.com.