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Community tries to reduce stray population

Gale Rose
grose@pratttribune.com
Barb Prater, Pratt Area Humane Society board member, writes an identification tag for a feral ca caught last week as part of the Nip and Tip program designed to capture unsocialized cats, get them spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and returned to the area they were captured. Volunteer Travis Ford assists.

PRATT — More than 30 feral cats were caught then spayed/neutered and given vaccinations before being released again to roam the streets of Pratt.

The Pratt Area Humane Society’s “Nip and Tip” program is designed to decrease the stray cat population in Pratt, said veterinarian Pam Howell.

Several veterinarians helped with the spaying and neutering portion of last week’s event. The program is for unsocialized cats and not for owned cats that have been socialized.

“This is the only way we can use to reduce the cat population,” Howell said. “Through time and attrition, their numbers should go down.”

The “tip” part of the program refers to clipping the tip of the left ear of the cat. This is an identification mark that allows people to immediately identify cats that have been through the program and don’t need to be captured again.

In order to catch wild cats, cages were placed at prearranged locations in Pratt where cats were already being fed. The animals were then trapped in cages and the surgical procedures took place the following day.

“We worked with the property owners and the people that take care of the cats,” Howell said. “We are doing all the trapping for this. We do everything as a team. We set up traps and got them when we could.”

The volunteers never touched the cats when they are awake. They are trapped in cages then give a given an injection anesthesia so they are asleep during the procedures.

The cats are also dewormed and vaccinated for rabies and distemper.

High Plains Veterinarian Services donated their facilities, time, staff and supplies. Between 15 and 20 people assisted.

There are no numbers available on how many unsocialized cats are in Pratt, but Howell said she was collecting data on where colonies were being located.

“I just know through observation. People call the Humane Society because they are concerned about there being too many cats or they are marking areas where people don’t want marked,” Howell said. “A few cats are OK, but a lot of cats are not OK.”

In conjunction with this program, cat owners are encouraged to get their pets spayed or neutered.

Funding for this event was made possible, in part, by a donation from John Dauner in memory of his late wife, Kimberly Dauner.