The Van Gogh Society takes on the local feral cat population | New

Logansport and Cass County have a feral cat problem, and the Cass County Humane Society is working on a solution. The shelter is in the midst of its annual Van Gogh Society trap return program, which aims to reduce the number of wanderers in the city and county.

“By neutering and neutering them, that’s 50 fewer cats that will enter (the human society),” said Lisa Terry, executive director of the human society. “…The idea behind wild trapping is to not have them end up here. If they are neutered and neutered, they cannot and will not.

Terry brought two volunteers to a farm east of Logansport on Monday. A Humane Society van was filled with traps, newspapers, wet cat food, paper plates and long white sheets. They quickly got to work assessing the situation of the cats in the residence and setting traps.

Cats that follow the Van Gogh Society’s TNR program have the tip of one of their ears removed to indicate that they are spayed or neutered. The program is named after Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch painter best known for painting The Starry Night. Van Gogh cut off his left ear after an alleged argument with his friend, roommate and fellow artist Paul Gauguin.

There is high demand for the Van Gogh Society’s TNR program in Cass County. Residents with large populations of feral cats on their property can register for the program by completing a paper registration form. The property is then added to the long list of properties participating in the program. However, it may take some time for the human society to go through the list.

“We can only afford to do it every two weeks,” Terry said. “I have to raise the money. Then we have to coordinate with Monon Vet Clinic in Monon, Indiana because they are really generous with us. They save seven, eight, nine, 10 reservations. If we don’t catch that many (cats), I have to fill these places with cats or kittens from the (shelter) because they saved me time. We normally have a few that we can take, but the goal is to take as many (cats) as possible from that particular location.

Linda, the owner who took part in the program on Monday, said she signed up nearly a year ago. She asked to be identified by her first name only to prevent even more people from releasing cats near her residence.

“People abandon their cats. That’s how it all started,” Linda said. “There is an old bridge here. People throw (cats) there and they find their way here. They even threw dogs and everything in there. My neighbor, she takes the dogs. She rescues the dogs and takes care of them, and I pick up the cats.

Linda estimated that she had at least 20 cats currently living in her barn. She installs litter boxes, toys, food and blankets for the cats, but their population has continued to grow.

One of Linda’s large male cats was already neutered, but she didn’t believe any of the other cats in her barn had been neutered or neutered. It’s possible for cats to have several litters of kittens each year after reaching maturity at around four months, so their numbers can increase quickly. Linda currently has at least four young kittens on her property.

Terry said the cost of neutering cats can be prohibitive for people who want to prevent feral cats from having kittens on their properties, especially since it can easily cost upwards of $50 for each cat. Linda added that she has noticed the cost of cat food steadily increasing as her cat population grows.

“I just can’t do it. They are so far ahead of me,” she said. “It’s expensive to try to keep them fed. It got to where they get so much and that’s it. They can go hunting.

Terry noticed that some of the kittens showed signs of inbreeding. She pointed to the way the kittens’ eyes were set and said inbreeding is not uncommon in feral cat populations. She added that inbred cats can struggle with genetic defects and health issues.

Linda pleaded with Cass County residents not to dump their animals. She said there are always other homes and humane societies that will accept them and people can look after these cats. She says she is worried about future generations of cats born on her property.

“You get like I have here,” she said. “Another round of these cats having litters and we’re going to have deformed cats because they crossbreed. It’s awful. You end up with birth defects and everything else. I don’t think people realize what’s happening to all of this.

Terry and his volunteers covered the humane traps with layers of newspaper. Then they opened boxes of wet food and collected some on paper plates which they placed at the bottom of each trap. The traps were then strategically placed inside different areas of the barn.

Linda followed the Humane Society’s instructions not to feed the cats for a few days before the volunteers arrived on Monday. As the volunteers hid behind a wall of wooden slats, the metal traps slammed shut as hungry cats ventured inside to enjoy the wet food.

Once the cats were trapped, they were moved outside and the traps were covered with one of the long leaves. Covering traps helps cats stay calm and reduces the chance of them hurting themselves or volunteers.

Humane Society volunteers caught eight cats in Linda’s barn. Neutering and neutering these eight cats may not prevent other cats from breeding, but it will hopefully make a difference.

Royal Center resident Greg Abbott said the Van Gogh Society’s TNR program has made a difference on his property. He bought a lot of cat food and had counted nearly a dozen feral cats outside his house. Volunteers visited Abbott’s residence earlier this month and trapped seven cats.

“I thought it was fun,” Abbott said. “It was interesting trying to decide where to put all the traps to catch the cats. Then we just waited.

Abbott enjoyed working with volunteers so much that he decided to volunteer. He was one of the volunteers who went with Terry to catch feral cats on Linda’s property.

Linda’s barn cats were transported to the Monon Veterinary Clinic to be spayed, neutered and treated for any serious illnesses on Tuesday before being released onto Linda’s property on Wednesday morning. Linda will be able to tell which cats have been spayed or neutered because those cats will have one of their ears tilted.

“I think the program Lisa has put together here is just awesome,” Linda said. “I think it would be great if we could get a lot of people to donate to this cause and help it out a bit. And don’t throw away your cats. Have them repaired.