Spring is upon us which means we will start to see a lot of newborn wildlife. I always love watching young birds learn to fly with a bit of fuzz still on their heads, and each year I seem to get a few litters of wild rabbits around my house. While I love seeing this new life, there is one animal that we all need to work together to help keep under population control – cats.

Often around this time of the year I hear people complain about the cat population. When I lived in town for a few years I really didn’t notice hardly any cats. I had one cat that would sit on my porch. I don’t know who he belonged to but I would feed him and bring him in when it was really cold. Other than him, I rarely saw other cats wandering. However, from talking to others around town it would seem like there are swarms of cats running wild. Whether that’s true or not, there is one really effective way to reduce community cat populations – get them spayed or neutered.

Cats can have several litters a year with an average of four kittens per litter. This means in their lifetime, one cat could have more than 150 babies, and of course at the same time those babies will grow to have babies.

I am a huge, huge advocate for trap-neuter-return programs, and it’s a real shame that Van Wert doesn’t have one yet. If the people of this county want to see the cat population drop, they would immediately invest in such a program.

I once heard someone say that people should be trapping and killing these cats and I find that absolutely disgusting and appalling. The only humane thing to do to reduce the overpopulation of cats is to enact a steady community cat TNR (trap- neuter- return) program.

Fort Wayne does have a TNR program and has seen amazing results. Fort Wayne’s H.O.P.E. For Animals has what they call a “Community Cat Program” where they humanely trap community cats, sterilize them, give them a rabies vaccination, microchip them, and ear-tip them. A community cat is one that is usually not adoptable; they live outside.

Data on their website shows that since Fort Wayne enacted their Community Cat Program, both the total shelter intake and the euthanasia rates for cats have dropped by thousands in Fort Wayne. The program is helping to reduce the cat population drastically.

According to the The Humane Society of the United States, there are around 30 to 40 million community cats in the U.S. but only around 2 percent are spayed or neutered. Around 80 percent of new cats born each year are born to community cats.

While I know some people will feel that it is not their responsibility to spay or neuter an animal they do not own, this “issue” will not stop until everyone works together.

While we may not have a Community Cat Program like Fort Wayne has, locally there are several very cost effective options to have feral cats sterilized. Sterilizing that one cat will likely prevent you years of more cats to complain about.

Be part of the solution and have your own pets spayed or neutered to prevent “accidental” babies and if you have community cats in your neighborhood, consider having them sterilized and released so that they will not continue to have unwanted litters. This is a very easy fix to reduce unwanted cats lingering about your yard.