HIGHLANDS, NJ - Across the country, feral cat populations are exploding. Here in Monmouth County, cats are in crisis. Last year, according to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MC SPCA), 1505 cats were euthanized in shelters in Monmouth County and over 30,000 euthanized statewide, mostly feral cats.
The Borough of Highlands is taking a proactive step to address a growing feral cat population before it becomes a problem.
Highlands Borough Council President Carolyn Broullon and Municipal Animal Control Officer Kerry Gowan met with MC SPCA officials Tuesday to discuss a joint Highlands/MC SPCA Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) Program.
Trap-Neuter-Return is successfully practiced in hundreds of communities and in every landscape and setting. It is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home—their colony—outdoors.
MCSPCA Chief of Police Ross Licitra and Animal Control Officer Brian Becker described the responsibilities of colony caregivers and the procedural requirements of the program to the 14 community residents in inattendance at the initial meeting.
- All community cat caregivers must sign a registration form to be filed with the MCSPCA
- A Master list will be generated from the registrations and shared on a monthly basis with MCSPCA, Animal Control, Borough Clerk
- List will include colony number; caregiver name and address; list of cats at colony including description, general health, if spay/neutered, vaccinated, etc. Recommend taking a picture of each cat.
- MCSPCA will coordinate all trapping
- MCSPCA will periodically check on colonies and caregivers to provide guidance and if needed, enforcement
The MC SPCA will be responsible for trapping, pickup, neutering, inserting an eartip microchip, vaccinations, aftercare, and returning the cat to the colony. The full cost for male or female would be $75 per cat. The town will pay half price ($37.50) in the first year for up to 100 cats.
"The county wants to do all the trapping in the beginning, so now thats off the colony managers (list of responsibilities). All they have to do is keep their cats healthy, set up the trapping spots." said Broullon. "I worked out a deal with them that they will pay for half of the cost of the first 100 cats. And after we've had 100 cats in the first calendar year then we will renegotiate and see how much more they will cover for us."
Broullon estimates there are 400-500 feral cats in the community.
The following “Cat Hot Spots” were identified at Tuesdays meeting for initial trapping:
- Area of Bay and Barberie
- 4th and 5th Streets from Valley to Cedar
- Corner of 5th and Miller Streets
- Lot near liquor store [Bay Ave and Kay/Jackson]