Life in Prison Means New Life for Ferals

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A group of feral cats in Nevada has found an unconventional home in a place where they are welcome to live as they please.

A new program in Carson City,  a partnership effort  between Northern Nevada Correctional Center prison and the Carson Tahoe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CTSPCA), has brought feral cats who were not welcome to remain in their communities to live freely at the prison.

The prison needs the cats to control problems caused by infestations of squirrels, mice and pigeons. Adam Watson, assistant warden in charge of programs for NNCC, called the new program “quite a success”, saying “There has been a noted reduction in the populations of pigeons, squirrels and mice since the cats were brought in, We put cats in the warehouse, and we have not lost one 50-pound sack of rice or flour since.”

“This has had a noted impact on pest control. There are plenty of places for the cats to hide and we have feeding stations for them. The only alternative for them was putting them to sleep, so they’re doing their job and we’re providing them with shelter.”

Susan Paul, CTSPCA president, says “This is helping the pigeons to move away and find new nesting spots, and the squirrels are moving too, so the prison is benefiting.”
She notes that the state saves money formerly spent on rodent control since the cats are now doing the job.

CTSPCA is sensitive to the issues of ferals and advocates for them, so is the perfect organization for the partnership. Ms. Paul says that after receiving the trapped animals Carson City Animal Services keeps feral cats for her for three or four days after neutering. “We test for AIDS and leukemia, spay and neuter them, then vaccinate, plus give them a dose of antibiotics before we move them. You want them to go into a healthy new environment,”

Gail Radtke, Carson City Animal Services Manager, said the program benefits the shelter, as well. “Carson City Animal Services is so appreciative of Susan Paul, for her love and effort to save the lives of the feral cat population in Carson City.  Members of this community have also expressed their gratitude of this program, knowing that these cats have a second chance at life.”

There are 10 houses and five feeding stations set up inside the prison to accommodate more than 25 cats, and Ms. Paul goes out regularly to take food and check on them. The program was instituted slowly, beginning with five cats and then adding more. We do not know how many cats may eventually be placed at the prison, or whether 25 is the limit.

While there are dangers, such as when one cat got caught in the razor wire topping the wall and had to be carefully removed by staff wearing welding gloves, those dangers are certainly far fewer than those in the Carson city community at large. There have been no problems reported between the inmates and the cats so far.

This new program is just eight weeks old but all involved are pleased that it is working, to the benefit to all. We are happy to know that the cats have a place where they can live as they choose, albeit within the confines of the prison walls, especially considering the alternative.

0 thoughts on “Life in Prison Means New Life for Ferals”

  1. Most ferals will never tolerate being petted or held. They do interact eventually, when they have no where to run away to. The ferals we deal with will hang around and wait for food, but only a couple can be touched.

  2. What a great story, and what a wonderful solution for these beautiful cats. I had a relative that spent some time in prison, and there were a group of cats that he and the other inmates took care of. A few of them were ferals, but one in particular was definitely a people cat. The inmates watched out for these cats, brought out treats from the cafeteria, and it was well known within the inmate population that you don’t mess with the cats. Unfortunately, the people cat went missing, and was found about a week later. He had been hit by a car right outside the compound. The inmates were allowed to have a funeral for this cat, and they were allowed to bury him on the site. His grave was marked by a very large stone. It was moving to watch these inmates deal with these cats. So glad that there are prisons out there with adoption programs as well as feral programs. It gives the cats a much needed home, and it helps the inmates get in touch with their human side…

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