Lycoming SPCA to no longer take in feral cats

The Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will no longer be taking in feral cats starting Monday.

The SPCA gives out vouchers when possible to assist the owners of cats in getting them spayed or neutered. The procedures of such can be costly so the SPCA and the Beckoning Cat Clinic are working together in order to help get feral cats spayed or neutered and living better lives.

Other businesses like the Beckoning Cat Clinic, at 1417 East Third St., are helping the Lycoming SPCA by offering spay, neuter and vaccine services for cats, both feral and pets. The clinic is open to the public to help get feral cats spayed or neutered at a more affordable price.

“We give discounts on feral cats because often times clients come in with multiple cats,” said Felicia Loveland, a veterinarian assistant from the Beckoning Cat Clinic. “There’s also a discount on the distemper vaccine that helps the parvovirus. It’s very fatal and they (the cats) can bring it into the house and kill multiple cats.”

The vaccine at the clinic is being used on most feral cats as there is a current outbreak of the parvovirus in north Columbia County. This vaccine for feral cats retails at $10 and the overall surgery to spay or neuter costs around $45 at the clinic.

Feral cats are animals that are raised in the wild and do not have a sense of socialization with people, according to the SPCA.

Victoria Stryker, director of the SPCA said the primary reason the organization can no longer take in the cats is because there are only two options for the feral cats that come into the SPCA.

“We can’t care for them here. If someone brought us a feral cat, there’s two options for it: We euthanize it or send it back. But, we want to get them spayed or neutered before they go back to their colony,” she said. “We want the animals to live their lives and be cared for.”

The definition of a cat colony is one or more cats that are living in the wild, most times feral, that tend to have one colony caregiver who is one person in the community that feeds and cares for the cat or cats according to Stryker.

Loveland said socializing feral cats is often impossible because they lack experience with human interaction.

“Feral cats are harder to socialize. They are often skittish and don’t want to be around people in the first place,” said Loveland.

In a kennel situation like the SPCA, it’s not a safe environment for the cats and for the volunteers or employees working. Feral cats tend to build one-on-one relationships with people. The employees and volunteers at the SPCA cannot build a rapport with these cats due to their fight or flight nature.

“When a cat is born outside, they become like a wild animal. Their instincts are fight or flight and often run away when approached. They even swat at or bite people,” said Stryker. “Some people think that feral cats can be tamed. It’s not something that you can easily do; it’s usually a one-on-one kind of thing, where the cat will bond with one person. But in a kennel situation with multiple staff, it is impossible to build a rapport with a cat. It’s a long process.”

The SPCA has received two grants from the PetCo Foundation and Best Friends with the Rachael Ray Foundation to continue to help the ongoing cause. With a $15,000 grant to spay and neuter cats in local trailer parks and an $18,000 TNR grant that funds trapping then spaying or neutering feral cats and releasing them to where they came from. Styker and the SPCA are one step closer to the goal of ending euthanasia.

“With grant funding, we can make this work instead of killing cats just because they are wild,” she said.

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