New initiative for stray cats in the county

By Erin Perkins -

MASON COUNTY — Two local residents are joining together to try and bring a new initiative to help with the overpopulation of stray cats in Mason County.

Camala Simpkins shared she and and Renee Wickline are trying to bring a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program to Mason County, so stray cats can be spayed/neutered without cost and then released back to their homes.

Until their application is approved to be a 501c3 non-profit organization, they will be working with Operation Fancy Free in Jackson County. Operation Fancy Free will be giving Mason County 30 percent of their grant funding and meeting Mason County volunteers at the county line each month to help with spaying/neutering 12-24 stray cats to help with overpopulation. Operation Fancy Free is also helping Roane County which is having the same problem with its county’s stray cats.

Simpkins, who is a regular volunteer at the Mason County Animal Shelter, shared though cats are housed at the animal shelter, there is no space for the feral cats within the county. The purpose of the animal shelter is to find a new home for the pets housed there and many feral cats cannot be tamed and re-housed within enough time before they must be put down which in turn costs the county money.

Kathy Stone of Operation Fancy Free has been trying to bring this program to Mason County for a few years now as it is both a humane and effective way to deal with stray cat overpopulation. Jackson County as well as many other cities in the state of West Virginia use a TRN program to help with managing the problem of stray cat overpopulation and Simpkins commented it works well for these areas.

Simpkins explained this initiative is in the early stages, but she and Wickline have already generated interest from 10-12 volunteers. They are still looking for more volunteers and if anyone is interested in donating to this cause, they are accepting traps, crates, and cat food as well as monetary donations.

The theory behind TNR is, the feral (community) cats are often returned back to their habitats where they can’t reproduce and their ears are also often marked as having been altered. Spaying and neutering also cuts down on behaviors like fighting which lead to infections and illness. With no cats to reproduce and grow in numbers, the populations decrease, humanely dealing with what some consider a nuisance issue and preventing future unwanted strays.

For anyone interested in volunteering or donating to this cause, they may contact Simpkins or Wickline, who are both on Facebook.

By Erin Perkins

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.