Resident tries to stabilize feral cat population

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STELLARTON – Throughout the day, Sylvie MacKenzie of Rutherford Street in Stellarton sets out some food for the feral cats in the neighborhood.

“I don’t really like the word feral,” she said. “I call them ‘work cats’ since they take care of the rodents and vermin in the community.”

Since the summer, MacKenzie has been trying to gather funds to get these cats fixed. It’s part of a trap-neuter-return (TNR) system that sees the animals spayed and neutered and returned to the wild.

“We’ve been able to get about 14 of the cats spayed and neutered, almost all the cats in the colony.”

The surgery costs about $100 and the donations have come through private citizens.

This problem of growing feral cat colonies is not limited to Stellarton: a group with a chapter in Pictou is also dealing with an increase in the feral population.

Though MacKenzie and a few others in the community feed the cats, they don’t take them into their homes. The spayed cats continue to live outside where she believes they can and should be allowed to thrive, without the fear of repopulating.

Mayor Joe Gennoe of Stellarton is sympathetic to MacKenzie’s cause but can’t commit town resources to the effort. He questions whether the end result for the cats is any different after the surgery.

“It’s great [MacKenzie] is taking them in to be fixed, but they’re still being released into the community, starving, and into freezing weather.”

The effectiveness of TNR programs has been debated for years in numerous urban and rural centres from coast to coast. While robust TNR initiatives can help slow the growth of cat populations, a small group relying on private donations may have a more difficult time stemming the tide.

Small programs may not have the funds to deal with any diseases or parasites the cats could have.

In this case, MacKenzie says the TNR cats the she feeds don’t have diseases, though there are at least three other colonies of feral cats in Stellarton whose status is unknown.

The cost of the surgery and need for donations, a growing feral cat population, and the potential of diseases and parasites, make for an uphill battle for MacKenzie.

“These cats can be helpful to us in the community,” she said. “We just need to help them out too.”

Geographic location: STELLARTON, Rutherford Street, Pictou

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Recent comments

  • Margie
    January 11, 2013 - 20:27

    Sorry I misprinted this morning she gave me 40.00. There is no cat rabies. There are lots of feral cats in every community of every town and city in North America and the world. It is because of people who do not spay and neuter their animals and throw them out into the streets when they dont want them anymore. They are just trying to survive!! These cats had upper respritory which is not a death sentence other than that they were healthy for the most part and have a right to live. The coyotes would be in town anyway. There is no kitten rabies in NS in fact there isnt any rabies in NS. If more people would try to help these animals and take care of their own there would not be this problem but once again animals pay the price of human neglect. I am trying to raise money to help more feral cats. No it isnt the answer but at least its a help. Thank you to everyone who helped me by donating pennies, buying dishcloths, paying a vet bill. I appreciate it all and I hope I made a difference in the lives of these cats.

    • Woodsman
      January 15, 2013 - 09:01

      For only $15 you can take care of 5000 feral cats. That's how much it cost me when I got 5000 rounds of .22 longs on a close-out sale. That's 3 cats per penny. $0.003 per cat. Their suffering, the suffering of all the thousands and thousands of native wildlife that invasive species cats gut and skin alive for their play-toys, and all the diseases they spread are instantly put to an end. I stopped all that for hundreds of cats for less than the price of a couple cups of coffee -- with more ammo left over should the problem ever rear its ugly head again due to people as stupid and heartless as you are. Just because you are too spineless and heartless to do the right thing, doesn't mean everyone else isn't as weak and stupid. Perpetuate some more suffering of cats and wildlife. You must get a real kick out of letting animals suffer to death (attrition), don't you. Why aren't you in prison yet for all the suffering of animals that YOU cause?

  • FedUp
    January 11, 2013 - 13:31

    SO....what do you all think is the solution? Why is there even a cat problem to begin with? Why is the SPCA full to capacity with cats? Why is there ferel colonies in the first place? Because of people! Cats not spayed or neutered, cats not innoculated and worst of all cats let outside to roam or left abandoned. People created this problem so why are people not being held accountable? These "ferel" colonies did not move into town origionally of their own accord. People are the reason they are here. These cats don't deserve to die, to starve and freeze and suffer from illness and disease. People are the problem so as people it's time to be accountable, humane and responsible. These animals have the right to live and we do not have the right to dispose of them because they are inconvienient. Cudos to those who are attempting to clean up the mess that other people have made. The human race has to lose the disposable attitudes when it comes to other living beings .We need to be morally, financially and legally responsible to our pets and not create these horrendous situations in the first place. I am feeding abandoned cats and their lives are horrible and what has happened to them is down right cruel. For shame!

  • Woodsman
    January 11, 2013 - 11:23

    I think the worst part of all, anyone associated with TNR aren't adhering to the mandatory REQUIRED BY LAW SIX-MONTH QUARANTINE for any animal when harvested from the wild and intended for any sector of the pet-trade. This is why rabid kittens are now being adopted direct from shelters that allow the practice of wild-harvested animals from feral-cat colonies without the REQUIRED BY LAW 6-MONTH QUARANTINE (Like this one, Google for: rabid kitten adopted wake county) The 10-14 day holding period for bite & scratch cases is ONLY meant to see if they were infectious at the time of the incident, but DOES NOT IN ANY WAY prove that that cat does not have rabies. The incubation period for rabies can be (on average) from 21 to 240 days. And in some cases as much as 11 months. One rare case being 6 years. This is why when you take your pet to another country they MUST quarantine your pet for a MINIMUM of 6 months to be relatively sure (not 100% certain) that you are not bringing rabies into their country. Giving a rabies shot to an animal that already has rabies and has not been quarantined for AT LEAST 6 MONTHS FIRST does NOTHING to ensure that that animal does not have rabies! But these TNR advocates, and the veterinarians and shelters and local government "officials" that support them? EACH AND EVERY ONE IS IN *DIRECT* *VIOLATION* OF WELL-ESTABLISHED *NATIONAL* & *INTERNATIONAL* *LAW*. They ALL need to be sued -- fast, hard and so deep that they never recover from it. Now add on top of that that anyone who feeds these cats is training them to approach humans for food (contrary to them always claiming feral cats run from humans). What happens to the child or foolish adult that reaches down to pet or try to pick up that "cute kitty"? The wild animal lashes out and bites or scratches the hand that has no food for them. Google for: feral cat attack rabies Don't be surprised at the number of search-hits you get or the horrendous stories that go with them. The number of suspected rabies cases and the then required mandatory rabies shots for each individual costing them well over $1000 out of their own pockets, has been growing as exponentially fast as cats breed. Ask a cat-feeder to pay for your shots and lost work-time and suffering? Neither they, nor shelters, nor the local government who supports TNR carry ONE PENNY of liability insurance for the deadly dangers they are bringing to their communities by allowing them to feed and TNR stray cats. Let's make 2013 the year where ALL aspects of TNR are ILLEGAL. It's the only solution.

    • FedUp
      January 11, 2013 - 13:37

      Really? Harvesting wild animals? They were not wild when they were neglected, abandoned, tossed out and forgotten. What are people doing to be part of the solution? We as humans ARE responsible for this as usual and as usual it's the non humans that are going to suffer for it.

  • Woodsman
    January 11, 2013 - 11:11

    Here's how these ignorant, self-serving, and uneducated TNR-advocates are destroying your planet and all life on it. The TNR CON-GAME FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control. FACT: Trap, Neuter, & Release (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue the cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today -- FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bioterrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague -- Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.) FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR'ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock's offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats' Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn't begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death; is that money isn't going into an HSUS or SPCA board-member's pocket, veterinarian's pocket, cat-food company CEO's pocket, or a drug-company CEO's pocket. And that's the ONLY difference! FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats' tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.) FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2-4X's faster than any naturally occurring cat-species. FACT: In _TWELVE_YEARS_ Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC have only reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here's how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES' deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES can't even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it. FACT: When researching over 100 of the most "successful" TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon's 50,000 TNR'ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. Less than 0.4% is a far cry from the required 80%-90% to be the least bit effective. FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there's no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR 3 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void. FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being -- IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!

  • Nicole
    January 11, 2013 - 08:12

    Folks - the problem here begins with the people who get kittens and cats and do not follow through with caring for them properly by being responsible pet owners and having them spayed and neutered. Don't be nasty to those who are trying to help reduce the introduction of new the situation without having to euthanize the cats.

  • SAS
    January 11, 2013 - 06:44

    I don't believe this should be allowed by the town because it is drawing the coyotes closer to our homes. I am also on this street and have talked to neighbours who have seen the coytes going through their back field, heading down that way and also coming back with a cat in their mouths. This is a food source for the coytes, and also putting other people's animals and children in danger. I think the town needs to step in here, and fast!

  • annette
    January 11, 2013 - 05:51

    she is the problem. she has more cats since that other lady got all of the other cats done. she is a hoarder who isnt helping the situation but causing more harm to those cats than good. something should be done about this situation not only with the animals but the living condiitons. dept of health should be called. she will just continue to get more and more cats.

  • Margie Garland
    January 10, 2013 - 21:54

    Excuse me but Sylvia Mackenzie DID NOT get the funds to get the cats spayed . all she put in was 4.00 in change, nor did she take them to the vet. Margie Garland and another lady worked very hard to raise the money and I (Margie) took them to the vet my self. A neighbor also helped. There is more to this story but I wont go there. I did get 14 of the cats spayed, found places for 12 kittens and 2 cats. Some of the kittens were very sick.

      January 11, 2013 - 08:28

      I cannot believe that this woman is taking the credit for getting the fund's for these cat's spayed & taking them to the vet's, Any one who know's about this situation know's it was MARGIE GARLAND ......Shame Shame on you!!