Clarifying facts about the Big Kitty Fix program

Editor:

In response to the letters by Pete Feigley and Beth Madden, those of us working on the Big Kitty Fix program wish to clarify some facts about our program. This clarification will hopefully open up creative dialogue and help us find common ground. In fact, we believe the Big Kitty Fix operates at that intersection of animal welfare, public health and safety, and environmental concerns that can elude those who work in those separate arenas. 

The Big Kitty Fix is one piece of the Spay Neuter Project, which has been promoting and implementing spay neuter projects in Park County for a decade. Until recently, we have referred to it as TNR (trap, neuter, release) because we often trap these cats to alter and vaccinate them, then return them. 

The Big Kitty Fix focuses on altering and vaccinating semi-socialized barn and rural cats, and owned cats living in a specific home environment. We work with landowners looking for nonlethal population control. They typically feed, shelter and care for these cats, which provide rodent control. We do NOT randomly trap, neuter and release feral cats. Nor do we advocate establishing “colonies” of feral cats in the greater landscape. Wild cats do have short, diseased, miserable lives. These cats are not native or wildlife, and they should not be managed as such. Cats are very efficient predators that prey on song birds and small mammals. The Stafford Animal Shelter encourages people to keep their cats inside. Cats living indoors live twice as long and have far less exposure to rabies and other animal related diseases. This greatly reduces public health and safety issues and diminishes their impact on songbirds and other wildlife.

The Big Kitty Fix, by design, targets outdoor barn and rural cats that will never be inside cats. Many are “drop-off” cats that get dumped in the countryside. Pregnant females and litters of kittens seem to be favorite “drop-off” cats. We provide a way to negotiate the daunting expense and logistics of trapping, altering and vaccinating these cats. By limiting the number of cats in the landscape — particularly the number of unaltered, unvaccinated cats — we can diminish the suffering of animals, the public health and safety risks, and the environmental damage. 

The Stafford Animal Shelter as well as the City of Livingston does indeed trap when the property owner does not want the cats or kittens. These cats are socialized and adopted when possible. There is no solution that satisfies everyone, but we do what we can, striving for balance and common ground.

Vicki Blakeman
Executive Director
Stafford Animal Shelter