It can be difficult operating an organization that is all volunteer without a physical structure. For many feral cat programs, this is indeed the case. People with a love of cats and seeing them cared for take their time, energy, and money to do the right thing. Such is the case of the Feral Cat Foundation. Servicing the areas of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in Northern California, the organization works hard to educate and assist in coordinating efforts for feral colony care and to foster and find forever homes for cats and kittens. It is a big job, but they, as many similar groups, push onward, in spite of even running into some political challenges, such as those experienced by people in the Antioch area who continued to feed multiple colonies totaling about 70 cats in the downtown district area in spite of a ban.
In 2014, the city council of Antioch placed a ban on anyone feeding the feral cats. However, that did not stop people from doing so and a compromise was finally reached. As of November 2015, The Homeless Animals Response Program (HARP) is now working in conjunction with the city’s Animal Services department, following specific requirements, including T-N-R (Trap-Neuter-Release) practices that return animals deemed unadoptable to the identified areas. Susan Smith, who oversees the HARP activities, stated that as of the ban lift, she had not seen any kittens among the colonies she feeds. Antioch’s Animal Services is also vested in this operation and responsible to alert HARP if a feral cat that has been brought to the shelter is microchipped, which will result in contacting of the owner and a reduction of the number of cats that are euthanized. Additionally, they are working with HARP and other rescue organization to obtain funds for low-cost veterinary care, spaying and neutering.
Feral organizations have done and continue to do much to keep colony populations in check, helping to monitor and keep ferals healthy and in check. As, sadly, as their efforts are applauded, particularly when dealing with the challenges of bureaucracy, there are still people out there who think cats are disposable and will simply drop them off someplace and leave them to their own devices, unaware of the dramatic impact that single action has taken on environment and the cat.