Sports Car Leads to Cat Colony Shift
October 16, 2014 1 Comment
A version of this article appeared in the Branford Eagle, the online newspaper for Branford, Connecticut.
A single disgruntled tenant has led to the relocation of a colony of feral cats in the Lake Saltonstall area of Branford.
As we’ve reported before, the colony of feral cats adjacent to a commercial complex has been lovingly cared for by members of the Branford Compassion Club (BCC) for more than four years. But the large semi-circle of hay-filled huts was missing during a recent drive-by, and only a single orange cat could be seen.
But BCC doyenne Eunice Lasala assured us that the colony was still in the area, albeit a hundred feet or so away, behind a newly erected stockade fence. Ah, yes, there they were.
The new tenant to the complex, who spends only two days at the location, decided that he didn’t like the paw prints from the cats on his sports car, which he parked along the service entrance adjacent to the colony. He complained to the owner of the complex and that set off negotiations with BCC about what to do about the cats. The colony consists of about 15 cats, down from 30 or so when BCC started caring for them.
That’s due primarily to a program called Trap-Neuter-and-Release (TNR). Feral cats (domesticated cats that have been abandoned by humans and left to fend for themselves) congregate where food and other resources are available. Dedicated volunteer groups such as BCC locally trap the cats, oversee the spay-and-neutering process, and release them back to the colony. Kittens are taken into foster homes, where they are socialized and adopted out.
Volunteers take turns feeding the cats in a regular schedule and occasionally the cats become familiar enough with their caretakers to allow contact and subsequent socialization. Charlene Vessichio diligently maintains the schedule. She has named all of the cats and knows their histories.
Including “RJ Ragdoll,” who watched warily from the nearby parking lot.
And another kitty peered out from the underbrush.
Lasala said meetings were held with the owner of the complex who is based in White Plains, New York, and a lawyer who donated her services to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of the tenant. They came up with a solution that involved relocating and consolidating the colony to a spot a hundred or so feet from the original one. A contract was even drawn up that stipulated a month-to-month lease with a small fee paid to Goodwill and insurance to protect against the event of an attack by one of the ferals.
That’s extremely unlikely given that ferals are very wary of human contact and flee rather than attack. They’re also vaccinated for rabies at the time they’re spayed or neutered.
The deadline for relocation was June 1. So during a recent weekend a group of volunteers got together to make the move. “A lot of helping hands did it,” said Lasala.
The cats are now ensconced in a semi-circle behind the stockade fence in a clearing adjacent to a wooded area. The number of shelters has been reduced to six, plus there’s a covered feeding stations.
The new location is not that far from the old one. As of last week, the old location showed no sign that the cats had lived there.
They’re shown here last fall.
“It’s more private and they’re safer,” said Vessichio. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Both Vessichio and Lasala said the cats are still adjusting so only a couple could be seen in the area. They confirmed that all the cats made it through the long harsh winter.
Vessichio was philosophical. “We need a place for the cats, so we did what we had to do.”