ON THE PROWL
JULY 2, 2017
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The sun hovers low in the sky, spilling orange beams over downtown Victoria. A gray and cream calico cat with a missing left ear tip stretches out on the sidewalk beside Fossati’s Delicatessen.
Its urban camouflage makes it difficult to decipher from the weathered cement. Two more cats emerge from an alley behind the deli and join the first.
It’s dusk in Victoria, and the colony is rousing.
Like the other eight to 10 colonies stowed away in the city’s dark crevasses, these free roaming cats are routinely captured by Victoria Trap Neuter Return, or Victoria TNR, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission, according to President Brandi Mankoski, is to reduce the number of feral cats within the county and, sometimes, surrounding areas.
The calico’s missing ear tip is evidence of their progress with the East Juan Linn and South Main Street group.
Mankoski’s organization sets traps and collects strays. Wednesdays and Saturdays, volunteers transport the captured cats to Acres of Animals, where facility owner Sandra Cochran administers basic veterinary care.
The 63-year-old veterinarian spays, neuters, vaccinates, deworms, treats for fleas and other ailments and medicates wild cats. Cochran said she’s easily spayed 10,000 and neutered 8,000 stray cats since moving to Victoria in 1983.
“We’re making a difference, but there’s still too many,” Cochran says. “The problem is, we were so far behind when we started.”
Cats intended to be returned to the wild have the left tip of their ears clipped, Mankoski said.
This is a common practice for national TNR programs, Cochran said. The clipped ear indicates a cat has been sterilized and vaccinated.
Mankoski said the colonies are left intact because if they are removed, new feral cats move into the area. TNR cats do not breed or multiply. They live out their natural lives and die, reducing the wild population.
Unsterilized female cats have on average two litters of kittens a year, Mankoski said. Spring and fall are the kitten boom seasons.
Victoria residents can help control the wild cat population by spaying and neutering cats on their property.
“We still have a significant amount of people say, ‘Well, I feed that cat but it’s not really my cat,’” Cochran said. “Well, it is your cat, and now you’re responsible.”
She said she tries to fix cats as economically as possible and without discrimination. She charges $15 for male cats and $35 for females.
Residents can also help by volunteering or donating money, food and other supplies to Victoria TNR.
For more information, visit victoriatnr.org.