By Amy Barger
PIQUA — When Tiffany Pontius moved to Piqua recently, her family noticed an unusual amount of stray cats in the city.
“They were surprised about the number of cats that were everywhere,” Pontius said. She knew something had to be done.
Pontius did research on organizations that practiced TNR – trap, neuter, and return – on strays. Although Miami County has animal control organizations, she learned that Piqua did not have an organization that enforced TNR, and thus, Purrs in Piqua was born.
As oppose to trapping or euthanizing a stray cat, Purrs in Piqua’s solution to maintaining over population and disease in stray cats is to neuter the animals, provide the necessary shots, and return the cats to the area that it was found.
“What happens with animal control … they can trap or euthanize on the scene and many cats don’t die and are intact and can (still) breed,” Pontius said.
Returning the cats does more good than harm. Pontius says permanent removal of them creates a “vacuum effect” and draws other cats to the resourceful area to create a new colony and repopulate.
“We return for the simple reason that if you have spayed and neutered cats, it will reduce populations,” Pontius said. “If we just spayed and neutered one male and one female, that’s hundreds of cats that won’t be disturbing the community … If you have cats that have been fixed, they will keep other cats from coming into that area.”
There are two types of strays: abandoned and feral. Abandoned cats are friendly and were once placed in a home and can potentially be rehomed again. Feral cats are born into the wild and are more aggressive, making them unfit as house cats. Feral cats are returned to the wild while Purrs of Piqua find organizations that will help place abandoned cats.
“We have a huge abandonment problem,” Pontius said.
Between 2007-2010, the city of Jacksonville, Fla. saved $160,000, saving approximately 13,000 lives by investing in this method. Since Purrs in Piqua has been established in April, 20-30 cats have been neutered, saving thousands of kittens from being born into the wild.
“(TNR) has been used for years as a way to control stray populations, it helps the actual animal,” Pontius said. “You won’t see (the change) immediately – instead of the numbers going up, they will go down.”
Female cats can start breeding anywhere from 4-6 months of age and have up to five kittens. Kittens that were born this spring are breeding.
“It’s always an urgent necessity to get kittens spayed at 2 pounds at 10-12 weeks old,” Pontius said. She also stated “It’s the breeding, not the feeding,” that is the problem with stray over population.
During the Our Pets Best in Breed Sale, the Purrs in Piqua will have a booth for fundraising on Sept. 26, selling artwork and have pictures of cats that need TNR sponsorship at a $30 donation. Purrs in Piqua is self-financed and rely on donations to operate. There will also be a raffling for a cat quilt.
For more information, email the organization at [email protected] and find them on Facebook.