LUBBOCK, Texas — The extreme cold temperatures last week can be dangerous for a lot of animals – especially the feral cats in our community. Fortunately, thanks to Kat’s Alley Cats, over 140 cats were saved during the snowstorm.
The small but mighty non-profit is dedicated to reducing the overpopulation of feral cats through safely trapping, neutering and returning them to their colonies. Feral cats can’t survive well on their own, so when the storm hit, volunteers quickly stepped up for our kitties in need.
“I got really worried,” said Korey Burns, a volunteer who sheltered cats during the snowstorm. “I knew that the kittens would just freeze to death if we didn’t do something, provide some shelter.”
With a growing community of cats in her neighborhood, Burns had to act fast to keep them from freezing in the cold.
“I had posted that I’d put my dog house on our front porch. And Kat and I are friends on Facebook,” explained Burns. “And she was like, ‘I think you’re gonna need some straw for that. Do you have straw? I’ll bring you some.’”
Thanks to the resources provided by Kat’s Alley Cats, she saved a big colony of kitties.
“I could see straw kind of that would come out of the shelters,” said Burns. “And the food was always gone. So I knew that they were able to use it and that they were able to stay warm inside.”
Burns was just one of dozens that sheltered community cats during the storm with the non-profit’s help.
“We knew that we had several colonies that we had ‘T-N-R’, trap neuter returned, all over the city all over the community that did not have shelter, especially higher volume populations,” said Kat Livingston, co-founder of Kat’s Alley Cats.
The organization delivered make-shift shelters they’d built using plastic totes stuffed with straw and blankets for insulation.
“This storm was unlike anything we have ever experienced. We were just scrambling, making multiple trips to Home Depot trying to get all of our supplies together as quickly as possible,” said Livingston. “And down to the wire even right when it started snowing.”
Kat’s Alley Cats ended up sheltering 143 kitties who likely wouldn’t have made it through the storm otherwise.
“They can’t survive on their own,” said Burns. “Even though they aren’t tame, and they aren’t pets to people, they still need help to survive, they’re not meant to live in the wild all on their own, they need extra help.”
Although they’re sometimes perceived as pest or wild animals, community cats have grown tremendously in Lubbock and are not equipped to survive on their own. As domesticated pets got lost or were illegally released, the population boomed.
Now, according to Kat’s Alley Cats, the safest, most humane way to protect our wildlife, our domestic pets and the feral cats themselves is through trapping, neutering and returning them to their original colonies.
“Lack of spay neuter is what it comes down to,” said Livingston. “They will inevitably get pregnant and continue to have litter after litter of kittens until they get fixed”
As the weather gets warmer, breeding season ramps up.
“With kitten season coming up right around the corner, now is the time for us to get ahead of it and beat the heat, as we say,” Livingston said.
The non-profit is now trying to trap, neuter and return as many kitties as they can to prevent more overpopulation – something that can become high risk for public health if ignored.
“Trap neuter return, that’s the best way to cut down on the population and to keep them from overpopulating and inbreeding and causing health issues in them,” said Burns.
Reach out to Kat’s Alley Cats if you have a growing community of kitties in your area. In the meantime, be kind to them. Livingston said putting out water, cat food or even cans of tuna can be very helpful. However, never try to catch them or pick them up with your hands.
“Some are friendly community kitties that will approach humans and can be petted, whereas others are more feral, more timid, more unsocialized to people,” said Livingston. “Every single cat is different and the safest way to get them to and from the vet for surgery is in a humane, feral cat trap.”
Livingston stressed that trap, neuter and return is an extremely careful process. Cats should never be relocated without the help of an expert – once they’re neutered, returning them to their colony is the best practice.
If you have any questions about the cat community in your neighborhood, reach out to Kat’s Alley Cats through their Facebook page. If you’re interested in donating to them, you can via PayPal or Venmo @katsalleycats. They are also in need of donations like towels, cat food, blankets and more. You can donate to them through Amazon here.