The Spay Austin Coalition was recently notified of a desperate situation on Santa Rosa street in east Austin by Shadow Cats rescue. Feral cat trappers Julia Hilder (Spay Austin Coalition President) and coalition member Calene Summers (Thundering Paws) answered the call only to find one of the worst situations they could imagine.

What started as a few cats and kittens in a yard soon became the reality of an entire block overrun with wild cats and kittens. One of the neighbors puts food out regularly, the others throw out food scraps for the cats to scavenge. As Julia and Calene began trapping the first few cats they quickly realized there were many more than originally reported. As Julia was trapping one day, a resident pointed to an orange tabby and said, “That’s the mother who started it all”. Her current litter is living in a box on the front porch.

The cats have staked out their territory in individual yards, living in bushes and under cars and homes. Several litters of kittens, in addition to the one on the porch, have already been born and the females without new kittens are pregnant and will give birth any day.

santarosaSo far more than 20 kittens have been removed from the neighborhood and, had they not been rescued, would have been doomed to a life of misery. One kitten was found limping down the street with a broken femur after being hit by a car. Julia rushed this tiny kitten to Riverside Veterinary Clinic where a pin was placed into her leg. She is indeed one of the lucky ones.

The adults are too wild to be adopted so they are being spayed and neutered, then returned to the neighborhood where they will continue to live, but will no longer contribute to the overpopulation problem. The process of sterilizing feral cats and replacing them where they were found is called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR naysayers contend the cost of surgery for these homeless cats is not worthwhile and would be better spent on family pets. However,  studies have shown not only does it stop the breeding cycle, the cats have claimed the area as their own thereby preventing new cats from moving in to start the cycle all over again.

Of course, all it takes is two intact cats abandoned in that neighborhood, which is why it’s so important to spay and neuter all pets at an early age. The Spay Austin Coalition began as a concerted effort by a number of animal welfare groups working together to reduce the number of animals killed at the Town Lake Animal Center. After six years, our efforts have started making a difference. We were chosen as the group to assist the director of TLAC in drafting the original guidelines for the citywide TNR efforts that continue today. The ASPCA funded a grant called Mission Orange that provided resources directly to spay/neuter programs in Austin, including specifically for feral cats.

If you are interested in helping the Spay Austin Coalition in our efforts, please consider donating today. If you want your funds to go directly to the Santa Rosa Project, Shadow Cats Rescue has set up a funding page. All of the donations through that portal go directly to the care of the Santa Rosa cats and kittens.

If you want to donate without specifying a project, simply use the Paypal button in the upper right corner of this page. The Spay Austin Coalition is an all volunteer organization with IRS 501(c)(3) status. All donations are tax exempt and go directly to the care of the animals we work with. We have no – zero – paid staff or administration costs.

If you don’t have the funds to donate, please consider fostering or adopting a kitten (or two, or three). To foster or adopt, send an email to president at spayaustin dot com, or check the President box on our contact form. The socialization of these kittens at an early age insures they will be suitable for adoption, where they will live a long and happy life as part of a family. Maybe yours.