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Please have your pets spayed or neutered

There is an ongoing effort in the City of Natchez to reduce the widespread problem of feral and stray cats.

Ideally, this program, known as trap/spay/neuter/release, traps feral cats and through donors, has them spayed or neutered and returns them to their location.

Many times, this is not practical and the cats are taken by farms or establishments with equipment buildings, for pest control.

The committed volunteers are making a dent in the feral cat population. But since one female fertile cat can have a legacy of hundreds of kittens, this is cyclical and will become a recurring problem without future control.

I have spoken to the veterinarian involved with this program and he has made a rough calculation based on proven geometric extensions, and he has determined that in the short period of time that we have been carrying out the Natchez feral cat program, we have prevented the birth of over 2,000 unwanted kittens.

Unfortunately, this is somewhat of a “preaching to the choir” issue. Responsible pet owners will have had their animals spayed and neutered. Of course, there are individuals who would be happy to do this, but simply don’t have the financial means to do so.

The argument can be made that if they can’t afford to take care of their animals, they should not own any. Sometimes circumstances are beyond their control, such as friendly strays that adopt their premises or rescues from an unsafe environment.

Many people will not allow an animal to starve or remain in danger. There are programs out there that can help. The key is to take early control of the population so that it remains manageable. Low cost vouchers are available through the Mississippi Spay And Neuter Alliance (contact  601-420-2438).

This does require an application process, but most people can handle the cost of one or two animals. If families would like to adopt an animal or animals, a great solution is to do so through the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, in which an expensive veterinary treatment protocol is kept to a minimum that is included in the adoption fee.

Unfortunately, there are individuals who, although financially able to do so, will own pets but won’t be responsible for their control. For the sake of keeping the cat population, both domesticated and feral, at a maintenance level, this comes down to adopting a simple ordinance to require them to do so.

These measures working together can provide a solution. Eventually, with continued commitment and persistence through education, the work of the volunteers, and help from the city, the city will benefit with a healthy animal population.

Robert Greene is a member of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

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