Caring scouts lend a helping paw
There are an estimated 8,000-9,000 feral cats in Carson City. They would be left to fend for themselves if not for good people around town who try to help them, said Susan Paul, president of the Carson Tahoe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“We rented a storage unit near a car parts yard on Sage Street and we noticed there were all these cats hanging out – about 12 of them,” Paul said. “A mom had kittens, and the kittens grew up and had kittens, and she had more kittens.”
Paul soon learned that the business owner was feeding and watering the felines.
Paul has devoted the past three years to trying to make a difference for stray cats not so fortunate.
“We trap all the feral cats we find so that we can spay or neuter them, vaccinate and test for feline AIDS and leukemia. We have to put some cats down to keep the colonies healthy, but we release most of them back to where we find them,” Paul said.
These particular cats live in a huge complex built to keep them sheltered in winter and summer.
In another part of town, a colony comprised of about 17 cats is cared for by people in a nearby construction company office, and Paul goes by to change the blankets.
“They all have names and they all have toys,” she said. “It
consumes you, and they hide so well.”
Most of Carson City’s homeless cats aren’t feral in the true sense of the word, Paul said.
“People have abandoned them, and they start hunting or dumpster diving. It doesn’t take them long to go wild. The last couple of years, with the economy the way it has been, there is a lot of abandonment. People move and just leave them behind. I hate that they have to fight for their lives,” she said.
“We try to adopt out the healthy-tames, and if we can get the kittens early, we can keep them from turning wild. There are lots of kittens being born from spring through December,” she said.
Paul started up the 501(c)3 organization three years ago, and said she has about seven faithful volunteers and five foster homes for cats waiting to be adopted. She would like to see more people come forward to adopt cats or help the group, and said one of her goals is to try to get a low-cost spay-neuter program in place “so this (over-population) doesn’t go on and on.”
“We also need places to set up colonies for people who have businesses or barns where they want to control rodents. We have one guy whose rodent problem at his business is completely gone. We can move a small colony in and the cats all just settle right in if they have food and shelter,” she said.
Paul’s group raises money to buy food to feed the cats around town and operates an adoption center inside Petsmart on Fairview Drive. Volunteers also host regular adoption days in front of the store.
“We usually take two to three dogs with us from the shelter to our events to try to help them out,” she said.
Two Girl Scout cadets who have volunteered to help raise money for cat food have taken a special interest in the group by focusing on the city’s feral cats to earn their Silver Award.
They have already constructed two cat condos placed at a colony on Hot Springs Road, and are building two more to place at another colony near Carson City Animal Services, said Jerry Mott, Girl Scout Troop 553 leader.
The girls got involved after Mott saw something about the Carson Tahoe SPCA on Facebook.
“We adopted a kitten and met Susan,” she said.
“The project is a journey of leadership. The journey includes discovery, connecting and taking action,” she said.
The girls, 12-year-old Delaney Mott and 13-year-old Lexi Reid, are required to put 50 hours each into their project and to involve younger children or the public. They asked for donations, and Paul showed them where the cat colonies were.
After the first of the year, the two will talk to students at Carson Middle School and conduct a dry cat food drive.
Delaney Mott said she loves cats and wanted to do something to help them.
“I decided on this project because I just thought of all the cats on the street needing a home in the winter and when it rains. I worked with the SPCA and they gave us the plans for the condos,” she said.
“I like cats. They’re always there for you and I love petting them and having them purr on your lap,” she said.
Lexi Reid said she also has a special place in her heart for feral cats.
“I decided to do this project because there are a lot of feral cats in my neighborhood. We keep food and water for them and they have shelter under our house,” she said. “I like cats because of how they love on you and follow you around and sleep by your head.”