Norfolk, Va. - A booming feral cat population in Hampton Roads has many shelters and animal organizations turning to the national trend of Trap-Neuter- Return (TNR).
The practice works like this - cats are humanely trapped and brought to a shelter to be spayed or neutered. They also receive a rabies vaccination and medical care, before being returned to wherever they were trapped.
That is done because many times feral cats cannot be adopted into homes as pets.
"If they were brought into some kind of shelter, animal control environment, it might be very unlikely that they’d get adopted, they would not be comfortable being confined," explained Norfolk SPCA Executive Director Rob Blizard.
Earlier this week NewsChannel 3 brought you the story of Tiffany D'Andrea, a Virginia Beach woman charged with animal cruelty after she says she brought stray cats and kittens to Animal Control.
Read more here.
Karen Lauderback, with Spay HR, says her situation is far more common than people might realize in Hampton Roads.
"We’ve gotten calls from people who have said 'I was mowing my lawn, I went to put my lawnmower back in the garage and I found kittens.' Or 'I saw mom circling the garage because I had closed the door,'" Lauderback explained.
The problem is especially poignant this time of the year in what is considered the height of breeding season for cats.
"This is peak breeding season," Lauderback explained. "I think part of the problem is – for too long people accept the casual cat passing by and don’t think “Who does she or he belong to and are they fixed.'"
Currently, the Norfolk SPCA is able to offer free spay/neuter for feral cats through a grant.
"It was to sterilize 1200 cats in the City of Norfolk. We’re about halfway through that grant, so we invite people to bring in feral cats," Blizard explained.
Other cities and organizations in Hampton Roads also offer free or low-cost spay/neuter for both feral and owned cats.
For free spay/neuter of owned cats in Hampton Roads and feral cats outside of Norfolk, contact SpayHR at (757) 456-1215 or visit their website here.
For free spay/neuter (TNR) of feral cats in Norfolk, contact the Norfolk SPCA at (757) 622-3319 extension 310 or visit their website here.
For a list of local providers of low-cost spay/neuter in Hampton Roads click here.