“Alvin!” A resident of the Orchard Ridge neighborhood.Thousands of cats make their way to shelters around the country every year and Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control is no exception. For many years our city ordinance did not allow cats to roam free within city limits. Stray cats were simply brought into the shelter from citizens or picked up by our officers in the field. Every time a stray cat was trapped and euthanized, additional cats moved into the area to breed in even greater numbers. This process has proven not to work in reducing stray populations. Additionally, years of statistics show that few free-roaming cats are found wearing I.D. and fewer still, get claimed by an owner.

Thanks to positive changes in the City Ordinance in 2014, a Community Cats program has been established and we are working with citizens to make neighborhood cats happy, healthy and safe to carry out their futures. Since the programs’ start in August of 2014 through the end of December 2015, 988 cats have already been saved and returned to their outdoor “homes” spayed or neutered and with a 3-year rabies vaccination.

A Community Cat is an outdoor free-roaming cat not wearing acceptable identification such as a tag or microchip. These “Community Cats” are typically un-owned. They could be strays or pets that have been abandoned or feral cats which are extremely fearful of people and do not welcome human interactions.

To qualify as a Community Cat, it first must be determined by The Department of Animal Care & Control to be healthy and thriving. The exact cross streets or address from where the cat was removed must be provided.

With the help of a coalition of animal welfare organizations (H.O.P.E. for Animals, Allen County SPCA and Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control), we are now able to alter, ear mark, rabies vaccinate and microchip cats to ultimately place them back into their territory. The program is made possible through grant funding and private contributions to the program.

The Community Cat Program and our coalition efforts allow us to live side-by-side with cats in our neighborhoods and over time will help eliminate unwanted litters from arriving in our shelter every year.

Chances are you or someone you know is feeding and caring for stray cats. If you would like to become involved in helping cats in your neighborhood, you may become a Community Cat Provider using guidelines provided by our department. The guidelines are specific and necessary to prevent neighborhood nuisances that may require enforcement action.

As a Community Cat Provider you must participate in confining free-roaming cats for spaying or neutering, microchipping, and rabies vaccinations. Live traps are available by calling our office at 427-1244. Cats over four months of age and found to be in good overall health may be considered for the program.

A Community Cat Provider has the option of providing food or water or shelter to community cats. It is not required. Should you want to offer provisions, specific guidelines are available from our department and from our website at www.fwacc.org. We can also provide information on humane deterrents for cats that continue to display nuisance behaviors. In some circumstances the removal of a Community Cat may be necessary.

So many people are already caring for these free-roaming cats and we are excited to offer these life-saving services through a strong coalition working to help animals in Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control is A Division of Public Safety Serving the City of Fort Wayne. Meeting Standards for Animal Sheltering and Control Set Forth by the Humane Society of the United States. Make a difference for animals that follow with a planned giving will or bequest.

The Waynedale News Staff
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