One day last June a cat appeared in the Sala garden while I was eating lunch. She was interested in my canned fish, but kept her distance. She was a thin white cat and it was clear she wasn’t anyone’s pet. I left her some fish and began to see her daily. About a week or two later she arrived with her four kittens. They looked to be 9 weeks old and they would nurse and play in the garden.
I put cat food out for them and I knew we would need to do something to keep from having a cat population boom. Female cats can have up to three litters per year. For a cat that is struggling to feed herself, especially in the winter, providing for kittens can be very hard, especially in the winter.
That mama cat was pretty tame, though her kittens didn’t trust people. Many months later, feeding them regularly with lots of help from Sala teachers, kids from the ballet group, and many friends and cat lovers, these cats are now more tolerant and used to our coming and going, though they hide when we are near. They have a great cat house, thanks to Joseph Lightman, where they can keep warm, together, through winter.
At the end of August we found five tiny kittens, five or six weeks old. There was a second mama cat; very wild, she wanted nothing to do with people. Her kittens were young enough that we were able to socialize them and get them homes. They now live in Albuquerque, Cerro, Questa, and northern Colorado.
We began to follow the trap, neuter, return approach for our community of cats. It is a humane method and prevents the vacuum effect; caring for a wild cat colony keeps more from coming.
Our wild mama cats and two of our female kittens, now 7 months old, have been spayed (in other words, trapped, neutered, but returned to their chosen home). We have to neuter two more and then our cat group can hold steady at six. We’ve become the caretakers of this little colony. We’re their feeders and they are always on time.
These cats didn’t belong to anyone. We read a definition from the Maui Human Society’s website that describes them as “Community Cats.” This “is a term used to describe outdoor, unowned, free-roaming cats . . . that may be social or unsocial, but cannot be traced back to any one owner.”
We know there are a lot of community cats out there and people like us who take care of them. It can feel overwhelming. It can be hard to catch them and take them to a vet to get neutered. If you need help, or a cat carrier, a cage, or company you can reach us at email@example.com, (575) 224-2102.
As for our wildish community cats, they are welcome to live at in the Sala garden where we will always provide them food and a home.
You can support our efforts by:
- Buying a Sala T-shirt (all proceeds go to the cats)
- Donating to this effort (cat food, money, time)
- Help put food out for the six Sala cats
You can support community cats, and animal welfare in general, by:
- Supporting local groups working for animal welfare
- Becoming the caretaker of a cat group, and helping to get them neutered
- By adopting a couple of young kittens, they will grow to be domesticated
Finally, here are wonderful ideas for building shelters for wild cats: https://www.christinedemerchant.com/feral-cat-shelter.htm
Questa Del Rio News published an interview with Mayor John Ortega in our September 2022 edition on the feral feline and wild dog population in Questa. Since then the Northern New Mexico Friends of Animals will have fixed 11 cats by Jan. 12. This is great news. Thank you NNMFOA! Here is our updated list of resources.Click here for article.
SPAY AND NEUTER PETS, STRAYS and FERAL FELINES!
Northern New Mexico Friends of Animals are right here in Questa. They run a no-kill shelter, offer adoption services and foster care for dogs and cats and other animals. They provide free microchip service and registration. They work closely with other local groups, including veterinarians and spay and neuter clinics. If anyone is interested in adopting barn cats, please call Holly Howard at (575) 586 -0784. For more information, visit https://www.adoptapet.com/shelter/79240-northern-new-mexico-friends-of-animals-questa-new-mexico
Animal Protection New Mexico is a non-profit organization that assists New Mexico Counties in providing low-cost or free spay/neuter programs and provides a directory of services here: https://apnm.org/what-we-do/building-foundations-to-keep-animals-safe/new-mexico-spay-neuter-resources-directory/taos-county/.
Taos County sometimes has spay and neuter vouchers which will be available again sometime in the spring. All animals must be registered for $10 for two years to be eligible for spay and neuter services. For more information, to register and schedule appointments, please call Taos County Animal Control at (575) 737-6488. Please keep in mind that Animal Control personnel work in the field and will return calls before and after business hours and during lunch hours.
Zimmer Feline Foundation offers free cat spaying/neutering for Town of Taos, Taos County, and Taos Pueblo cats. Zimmer uses Angel Fire Veterinary and maybe Salazar Veterinary. They send out vouchers that are good for 90 days after you call, and then you make your own appointment with the vet. (505) 466-1676
Taos Feral Feline Friends: Pays to Help Strays Program helps people adopt stray cats of Taos County and the Enchanted Circle by providing spay/neuter surgery, vet-recommended testing, and vaccines. To be eligible, the adopter must contact TFFF within 60 days, or in advance, of the adoption. Cats from shelters, pet stores, or breeders are not eligible for this program. (575) 758-3519
Spay, Neuter & Vaccines for Dogs and Cats available to low-income pet owners of Town of Taos, Taos County and Taos Pueblo and for all feral, outdoor, barn cats, which are also eligible for free vaccinations. Dogs and cats must be between 8 weeks and 8 years of age. Española Valley Humane Society (505) 753-0228
Stray Hearts Animal Shelter in Taos has many dogs and cats, ready for adoption. They ensure all its animals are “spayed/neutered, dewormed, microchipped, and fully vaccinated,” according to its website: https://www.strayhearts.org/about-us (575) 758-2981.