Feral cat colony gets one-woman intervention

Jan Carr with a passel of pussycats she gathered at Sun Valley Floral Farm.

Jan Carr with a passel of pussycats she gathered at Sun Valley Floral Farm.

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Rex, Mel, Gary, Big Gray Dude, Howard Johnson and Harmony, a very pregnant Calico, are among the feral cats recently rescued from a vacant lot in Valley West. With complaints mounting, an emergency cat-trapping operation there has kicked into high gear.

The lot at 4635 Valley West Boulevard is just under an acre in size, and for sale at $135,000. It is located between two medical buildings. A grassy expanse on the street side gives way to dense foliage on the freeway-facing end, and that’s where a colony of 20 to 30 feral cats has lived for years.

A couple of animal lovers have kept the cat contingent in rough equilibrium. One has been feeding the cats to keep them healthy, and the other trapping them, getting them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and then releasing them back into the area.

Big Gray Dude

Big Gray Dude.

Recently, though, workers in the area have grown exasperated with the catfestation, and tensions between the businesses and cat lovers have reached the snarly stage, with police involved. Now, the cat feeder has been banished and the trapper is having to permanently remove the cats and find them homes – no small feat for unpettable, love-resistant, anti-social animals.

Growing up, Jan Carr spent most of her time on her grandparents’ ranch on Arcata Bottom, and as an adult has acted as something of a one-woman animal relief agency. She knows where the common cat-dumping spots are, and has trapped and treated hundreds of abandoned unfortunates, adopting dozens herself as a continuing compassionate practice.

The situation in Valley West now consumes most of her energy. It began a few weeks ago, when the sheer density of cats overwhelmed the Norcal Health Center cannabis clinic, located on the field’s north side.

Gary.

Gary.

According to Norcal Nurse Practitioner Gary Barsuaskas, the colony’s casualties, from adult cats to kittens, would turn up from time to time, creating a disease vector. Dogs, both stray and those being walked by guests at nearby motels, would often go after the cats. Clients pulling in to the parking lot were sometimes swarmed by cats who thought it was the woman who fed them for years showing up with dinner.

To break the cycle, police were asked to notify the cat feeder that she would no longer be allowed to bring daily dinners to the colony. According to Carr, the woman, whom she didn’t identify, was escorted from the property.

The businesspeople, police and some in the animal welfare community considered the cat feeder’s activity part of the problem. “The biggest issue was the woman feeding the cats,” said APD Lt. Ryan Peterson. He confirmed that the woman was contacted at the behest of area businesses, and told to stop the feeding operation. Barsuaskas said the colony had been started by the woman.

Carr disagrees. She says feeding the cats doesn’t increase their numbers, as long as it is accompanied by a simultaneous spay-neuter-release effort. Feral cats only live three or four years, and if not fed, they fight, and become bloody and diseased. She says the colony predates most of the businesses.

“These cats have been out here for decades,” she said. “They came from domestic cats, probably farm cats. And people dump here. It’s not the feeder’s fault.”

Nonetheless, Carr is accommodating the businessfolks’ desires and pulling the cats out as quickly as she can. Recently, Norcal contacted Humboldt Spay/Neuter network and asked that the cats be removed. Since then, Carr has trapped, fixed, vaxxed and returned an estimated 40 cats to the site. She knows them all, especially the ones she’s processed, since their ears are tipped while they are anesthetized for the spay or neuter.

Lucky.

Lucky.

“We know that this works, because there are only 20 cats there now,” she said. That’s down from an estimated 40 when she first got involved. Without food, she says, “you’ll start to see 20 sickly cats. They’ll live three years, four at the most, and die a slow and agonizing death. It’s just a terrible situation all around.”

Worried that the cats might be trapped and killed, Carr has drastically accelerated her capture operation in recent weeks, hoping to reduce the population there to zero.

Feral adult cats are not family-friendly and are very difficult to place. They need an isolated place to live, such as a barn, and must be enclosed for at least two weeks and preferably two months. Otherwise, as cats will do, they just head back to where they came from.

But with persistence and using all her contacts, Carr is managing to not only capture, but adopt out up to two cats per day. Her successes and frustrations are documented on a Facebook page titled Cats In My Heart.

“One thing about Humboldt County is that this is an animal-loving community,” Carr said. “I went on Facebook hoping for options and ideas. Little did I know it would explode.”

Someone posted information on Craigslist, and “the animal community went crazy,” she said. “My phone started ringing off the hook. People were coming out of the woodwork.”

That’s what the cats do at the field. From the sidewalk, one can – or could – view multiple cats prowling in and around the dense foliage on the west side. Now though, Carr’s aggressive intervention has reduced their numbers. She’s allowed on the site once a day, to provide a nominal meal and pull out captured cats.

She uses three trapping cages. One is permanently left open with food placed inside to habituate the cats to the cage. The other two close on entry.

The Cats In My Heart page documents recent captures. A special victory was catching the pregnant calico cat, which was recently dumped there.

While Carr has become skilled at trapping the wild, special-needs cats, placing them is a continuing challenge. The animal shelter can’t lodge the unadoptable cats, which must be euthanized.

Along with the special circumstances the cats require, she has to make sure they aren’t being obtained for use in training pit bulls or other exploitative uses.

“I’m determined that this will happen, but I need the community’s help,” she said. “Right now I just desperately need homes.”

Employees at Mad River Community Hospital’s Home Health Service, located on the field’s south side, also experienced issues. That office declined comment, saying that the story had been covered “over and over.”

A KAEF-TV story stated that “the feral cat situation in Arcata was resolved,” but that was a bit premature. Seven cats of the were rehomed last week, and six more are headed for a ranch in Crescent City. A&L Feed & Garden Supply is assisting with a kennel.

“I think it’s all moving in a very positive direction,” Barsuaskas said.

“I will be feeding on this property until the last cat is adopted,” Carr said.

Contact Carr through her Cats In My Heart Facebook page. Contact Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network at (707) 442-7729.

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11 Comments

  1. HajjFredHMinshall said:

    TNR Researcher–this is Hajji. Working on a rate-comparison between % feral cats ‘TNR’d’ and birth rate for popular consumption; would love to have a reference to quote for the 0.4% rate. Will save the link to this article and check for your reply.

    MaSalaam

  2. Willliam Wallace said:

    Wrong. Feral cats can be controlled by a combination of trapping and pellet gun culling. I and my father have been doing that for years to control cats that “Cat Lovers” bring to abandon on our property. Feral cats are disease vectors and wildlife destroyers.

  3. Reality Bytes said:

    As the centuries’-old-saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!”, and the origin of that saying. Sage advice handed-down from generations passed.

  4. Reality Bytes said:

    A favorite quotable: “Never underestimate the stupidity of humanity.”

    Though I find great humor in how anyone can be so astoundingly stupid and ignorant to even start to consider that TNR con. More holes in that TNR con than in swiss-cheese. LOL

  5. TNR Researcher said:

    The TNR CON-GAME

    FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.

    FACT: Trap, Neuter, & Re-Abandon (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue to cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today — FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bio-terrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague — Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.)

    FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2X-4X’s faster than any naturally occurring cat-species.

    FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR’ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, eaten from the inside-out by parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock’s offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats’ Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn’t begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. And pitting cat against cat to fight-to-the-death for territory is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT than those who run criminal dog-fight rings to see who wins. They spend YEARS in jail. IT IS A HIGHLY PUNISHABLE CRIME TO FORCE *ANY* DOMESTICATED ANIMALS TO FIGHT EACH OTHER FOR THEIR VERY SURVIVAL.

    FACT: The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death and forcing them to fight-to-the-death for survival; is that money isn’t going into Becky Robinson’s Alley-Cat-All-Lies pocket, or an HSUS or SPCA board-member’s pocket, veterinarian’s pocket, cat-food company CEO’s pocket, or a drug-company CEO’s pocket. And that’s the ONLY difference! Support yet another organization that exploits and perpetuates the suffering of animals for their own personal financial gain, then try to sleep well at night.

    FACT: These manipulative, deceptive, and deceitful TNR proponents are now clipping cats ears ONLY. WITHOUT vaccinations nor sterilizing them. They do this to save money and protect their outdoor hoarded cat colonies from being trapped and euthanized by the state because the clipped-ear shows officials that they have been sterilized and vaccinated. Why pay $140 for each cat and all that time when just a trap and a simple snip of scissors on each one can also protect their hoarded cats from being destroyed? (I have absolute proof of this.)

    FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats’ tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own lands not long ago.)

    FACT: In _SEVENTEEN_YEARS_ Alley Cat ALL-LIES branch of NYC have only reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here’s how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES’ deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC can’t even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it.

    FACT: When researching over 100 of the most “successful” TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon’s 50,000 TNR’ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. Less than 0.4% is a far cry from the required 75%-85% to be the least bit effective.

    FACT: Their mythical “vacuum effect” is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived “vacuum” is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there are no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own lands. ZERO cats replaced them FOR FIVE YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats’ resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of “vacuum effect” at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.

    FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being — IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!

  6. TNR Researcher said:

    Another interesting experiment. They wanted to find out if dogs could possibly transmit cat-shat Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. A dog infected with T. gondii from a source-cat cannot. The oocyst stage of this parasite’s life-cycle is 100% dependent on cat-physiology as its primary reproductive host. But if dogs ingest oocyst-laden cat-feces then dogs can pass the oocysts produced by cats & their common brain-hijacking parasite. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9477489?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn

    It is interesting to note that these Toxoplasma gondii oocysts shed by cats can even survive the hydrochloric stomach acids for the duration that they remain in a mammal’s digestive tract. And then they doubt my words when I tell them of the studies where they found that this parasite’s oocysts (seeds) can even survive washing your hands in bleach. You could wash your hands and garden vegetables in hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes for the same duration that food remains in an animal’s digestive tract and even that won’t destroy it. Your hands would be dissolved into a digestible pulp long before you could kill the Toxoplasma gondii oocysts.

    Yeah, “basic hygiene” is going to keep your kids safe from going blind sometime during their life, becoming autistic, or die if they ever require any immunosuppressive therapies during their lifetime if they had ever played in a sandbox that a neighbor’s cat has defecated in.

    Go ahead everyone, drink the cat-lickers’ Kool-Aid.

    Someone who will save the life of a cat over yours is not to be trusted by any other human alive on this planet. Even cat-lickers can’t trust their fellow cat-lickers to save each others’ lives when it comes right down to it. Truth is, they’d even rather that their own family and friends die (if they have any) than any of their deadly disease-infested cats. Sociopaths and psychopaths, one and all, right to their very cores.

  7. TNR Researcher said:

    Then there’s cats’ most insidious disease of all, their Toxoplasma gondii parasite that cats spread through their feces into all other animals. This is how humans get it in their dinner-meats, cats roaming around stockyards and farms (herbivores can contract this parasite in no other way). This is why cats are routinely destroyed around gestating livestock or important wildlife by shooting or drowning them. So those animals won’t suffer from the same things that can happen to the unborn fetus of any pregnant woman. (Miscarriages, still-births, hydrocephaly, and microcephaly.) It can make you blind or even kill you at any time during your life once you’ve been infected. It becomes a permanent lifetime parasite in your mind, killing you when your immune system becomes compromised by disease or chemo and immunosuppressive therapies. It can last over a year in any soils or waters and not even washing your hands or garden vegetables in bleach will destroy the oocysts. During dry-spells of weather (or inside low-humidity homes) when the oocysts become dessicated you can even contract T. gondii by just inhaling the air wherever any cats have defecated and the oocysts have become airborne/aerosolized. Contrary to cat-lickers’ self-deceptive myths, a cat can become reinfected many times during its life and spread millions of oocysts each time. It’s now linked to the cause of autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, memory-loss, and brain cancers; as well as increasing the suicide rate in women almost 2-fold even though they’ve never suffered from any mental or emotional health issues previously. This parasite is also killing off rare and endangered marine-mammals (all the way up to rare whales) along all coastlines, along with inland river-otters, from cats’ T. gondii oocysts in run-off from the land, the oocysts surviving even in saltwater. A catastrophic ecological disaster of multi-continent-sized proportions worse than any oil-spill that has ever existed or could even be imagined.

    Its strange life cycle is meant to infect rodents. Any rodents infected with it lose their fear of cats and are attracted to cat urine. http://scitizen.com/neuroscience/parasite-hijacks-the-mind-of-its-host_a-23-509.html

    Cats attract rodents to your home with their whole slew of diseases (like The Plague from rats and fleas, many people have died from cat-transmitted Plague in the USA already, it is alive and well and being spread by cats today). If you want rodents in your home keep cats outside of it to attract diseased rodents to your area. I experienced this phenomenon (as have many others), and all rodent problems disappeared after I shot and buried every last one of hundreds of cats on my lands. Much better NATIVE rodent predators returned to my lands, rather than these man-made cats that were just attracting more rodents.

  8. TNR Researcher said:

    You did know too, didn’t you, that giving a rabies shot to a cat that already has rabies does not cure it of rabies? Google for: RABID KITTEN ADOPTED WAKE COUNTY (for just one example of hundreds of rabid cats adopted from outdoors, given their rabies shot, but still transmitting and then dying from rabies). The incubation period for rabies is, on average, from 21 to 240 days, sometimes up to 11 months, one rare case being 6 years. A vetted cat can STILL transmit rabies many months later (during the last 2 weeks before it dies of rabies, sometimes not even showing any symptoms up to the point of its death) if it was harvested from unknown rabies-exposure conditions with an unknown vaccination history. May one of those cats you adopt-out have rabies too. Is your liability insurance in excess of $10M? Either quarantine them for 6 or more months in a government-supervised double-walled enclosure system at your OWN expense (as required by national and international law), or euthanize them. Those are your only 2 options to be relatively certain you are not handing rabies to someone. Isn’t reality fun?

    Google for: RABIES PROMPTS CARLSBAD TNR CAT PROGRAM SUSPENSION

    Rabies outbreak caused by TNR! 50+ pets euthanized. ALL stray cats destroyed. All livestock destroyed. More than a dozen homeowners pay for their own $5,000-$8,000 rabies shots for EACH family member.

    Google for: Rabies Outbreak in Westchester County. Google for: Rabid Kitten Jamestown Exposure

    There’s hundreds more like those on the net showing everyone how these phenomenally ignorant and foolish cat-lickers “help” their communities by allowing TNR CAT-HOARDERS to continue their criminally negligent behavior. And contrary to these cat-lickers’ perpetual LIES, feeding stray cats TRAINS them to approach humans for food. What do you think happens to the child or foolish adult that reaches down to try to pet or pick up that now seemingly friendly “cute kitty” that just approached them? The wild animal lashes out and bites or scratches the hand that has no food for them. Resulting in $5,000-$8,000 rabies shots for each victim of a cat-feeder’s criminally negligent behavior, paid for out of the victim’s OWN pockets. Two reports even document rabid cats entering a pet-door and one even came through the family’s ceiling in search of human supplied foods, the attack so bad that the whole family required hospitalization. Thanks to TNR practices and free-roaming cats you are now FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY to contract rabies from any cat than ANY OTHER domesticated animal.

    This is why even the CDC has issued direct warnings against the use of these failed TNR programs anywhere and everywhere: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12070/abstract

  9. TNR Researcher said:

    Those cats need to be tested for ALL of the following diseases, or I hope the recipient of one of them that is adopted-out or someone coming in contact with their disease-infested vermin cats sues their city and politicians, and every last TNR practitioner so bad that they never recover from it for the rest of their criminally negligent and criminally irresponsible sorry-excuses for lives. (For just one example of THOUSANDS, not long ago businesses in Miami were ruined by caretakers of feral-cats spreading hookworm in all the beaches. Lawsuits aplenty!)

    These are just the diseases these invasive species vermin cats have been spreading to humans, not counting the ones they spread to all wildlife. THERE ARE NO VACCINES against many of these, and are in-fact listed as bio-terrorism agents. They include: Afipia felis, Anthrax, Bartonella (Rochalimaea) henselae, Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Campylobacter Infection, Cat Scratch Disease, Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain), Cowpox, Coxiella burnetti Infection (Q fever), Cryptosporidium Infection, Cutaneous larva migrans, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm), Hookworm Infection, Leptospira Infection, Giardia, Neisseria canis, Pasteurella multocida, Plague, Poxvirus, Rabies, Rickettsia felis, Ringworm, Salmonella Infection, Scabies, Sporothrix schenckii, Toxocara Infection, Toxoplasmosis, Trichinosis, Visceral larva migrans, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. [Centers for Disease Control, July 2010] Bird-flu, Bovine Tuberculosis, Sarcosporidiosis, Flea-borne Typhus, Tularemia, and Rat-Bite Fever can now also be added to that list.

    Yes, “The Black Death” (the plague) is alive and well today and being spread by people’s cats this time around. Many people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA; all three forms of it transmitted by CATS — septicemic, bubonic, and pneumonic. For a fun read, one of hundreds of cases, Cat-Transmitted Fatal Pneumonic Plague — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8059908

    http://www.abcd-vets.org/Guidelines/Pages/EN-Other-Zoonoses-Feline-Plague.aspx

    “Recommendations to avoid zoonotic transmission
    Cats are considered the most important domestic animal involved in plague transmission to humans, and in endemic areas, outdoor cats may transmit the infection to their owners or to persons caring for sick cats (veterinarians and veterinary nurses).”

  10. Linda Stansberry said:

    This is a great, in-depth article with some beautiful pieces of prose. “Unpettable, love-resistant, anti-social animals.”–Classic Hoover.

  11. Jan Carr said:

    Thank you Kevin Hoover! Hopefully your lovely story will help find good homes! I am not really any kind of Hero, just a crazed cat woman, but thank you for the kind coverage! Bless you for helping these babies!

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