Program aims to stop feral cats from being euthanized in Fresno County

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Changes are coming to how Fresno County is managing its growing population of feral cats. Those are cats that live outdoors and aren’t socialized with people.

Proponents explained the new changes are more humane and would better control feral cat populations in the long run.

County officials said there are over 66,000 feral cats across all of Fresno County. They’ve been euthanizing the outdoor community cats for years but now, new plans presented by the Fresno County Department of Public Health would allow cats to be trapped, neutered, and then returned back to the community.

“It was a win for the cats!” said Brenda Mitchell with the Fresno Humane Society.

Fresno Humane Society President Brenda Mitchell said she’s excited that Fresno County is one step closer to enacting a countywide program called Trap Neuter and Return, also known as TNR.

During Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting, Mitchell and Fresno County Public Health Director David Luchini spoke about how the program is not only more humane than euthanizing feral cats but would better keep their populations down in the long run.

Mitchell explained they’ve been euthanizing cats for years and the population is still growing.

“’Trap, neuter, and return’ is one of the only proven ways to level out and stabilize healthy populations of cats, the studies have been done, the science shows it, if you remove cats from populations you actually end up with more cats rather than less,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the cats would also get rabies vaccines, as well as get neutered or spayed. They’d be marked with a tip on their ear, the universal symbol that a community cat is spayed or neutered.

The ordinance still has to be enacted and county documents say it’ll be included in the Fresno Humane animal services existing budget, costing $30,000 each year.

Still, Mitchell said it’s worth it.

“This will allow us to apply for more grants, to be able to assist with more active spay and neuter programs to bring big change to these areas where they are seeing too many kitties,” Mitchell explained.

Mitchell also said this program will help keep healthy cats who are living happily in the community out of the shelters.

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