Free-roaming cats are the focus at TLC Cat Refuge
"We treat every cat, or any animal for that matter, as a sacred life," Teri Williams, founder of TLC Cat Refuge in Berea, Kentucky, says.
She loves working with felines more than anything she's ever done, and since she started the TLC Cat Refuge, a small shelter caring for cats who are waiting to be adopted into loving homes, she's learned a great deal through actual experience. "You just want to change things immediately and help everyone all at once," she states.
But, she and her Board of Directors now see the real-world scenario as a balance between passion for the animals and the reality of what one small-town shelter is able to do.
Consequently, the refuge shifted its primary focus of caring for felines in its shelter environment to tackling the larger effort of helping free-roaming cats. While TLC Cat Refuge remains a refuge, it currently devotes more time to its free-roaming cats program.
TLC Cat Refuge's free-roaming cats program
In 2006, a couple of feral cats appeared in Teri's yard that (lucky for them) became her inspiration. Ms. Grumps and Whiskers the cats are still on her property, docile enough these days to allow her to pet and treat them with flea medication. And, it's because of them and the continual sight of feral and stray cats traipsing around Berea that caused her to ask, "What can be done?"
That's when the free-roaming cats program was born. Rather than calling it a trap/neuter/return program, Teri wanted to emphasize the fact that this program helps a number of stray as well as feral cats.
Bourbon County Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program in Paris, Kentucky
Teri has an excellent relationship with her low cost spay/neuter provider, Bourbon County Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program in Paris, Kentucky. Elaine Fuerniss, one of the directors there, says the program operates with the help of volunteers and two veterinarians.
Elaine says, "I've been so impressed with Teri Williams and our volunteers; we're all just like family."
The Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program is open every other weekend as well as every other Monday providing community cats with spay and neuter surgery, rabies and Fel-O-Vax4 vaccinations, ear tipping and ear cleaning.
Elaine claims the idea for this program came from volunteering with P.A.W.S. (Paris Animal Welfare Society), where for years she saw an enormous number of cats pouring into the shelter.
"We're a rural area with residents who either have barn cats or don't have disposable incomes to afford veterinary care for these cats," Fuerniss states. "Definitely, this really helps."
A multi-layered approach with TNR
Williams keeps a trap-neuter-return (TNR) list, so if someone calls with a stray or feral cat problem, and if that person is willing to handle part of the process, then she dispenses advice, loans traps, and shows them the proper protocol. She is wiling to subsidize any portion of the TNR in order to meet the needs of those trying to help. Or, if someone is able to handle the entire cost, great!
Teri receives anywhere from three to ten calls a day from people asking for help in some way with cats.
For additional information
Learn more about the TLC Cat Refuge.
Photo by Best Friends staff