ROCK SPRINGS — If you’re wondering how the feral cats discovered in the abandoned homes near Bunning Park last month are faring, the answer is, just fine.
The cats caught the attention of two community volunteers, Jana & Kristy Meeks, who along with many others, try to provide care for these animals in the area.
After realizing the cats would soon lose their homes due to a reclamation project planned for the area, the volunteers took action.
They teamed with the Red Desert Humane Society, Rock Springs Animal Control, Dr. Eilts – Rock Springs Pet Hospital, and Spay & Neuter Wyoming, to trap 15 cats and three kittens and relocate them a temporary home in the basement of the Red Desert Humane Society.
While most of the cats remain feral and still want nothing to do with humans, two have become domesticated and await adoption.
Volunteer Melinda Baas of the Sweetwater County Community Cats Project says most of the cats will remain feral.
“Every once in a while one might get used to human interaction, but most of them won’t and they’ll decide whether they want to stay or move on,” Baas said.
Now the real work begins. Finding new homes for community cats is the most difficult part of the process.
Thanks to some skilled work by Rock Springs Animal Control the trapping went quite quickly.
But, re-homing is a difficult process. Many experts working with community cats state that removing the cats from an area should be a last resort.
Groups like Alley Cat Allies (alleycat.org) recommend TNR or Trap, Neuter, Return as the way to manage community cat populations.
Currently, the cats are staying in unused kennels in the basement of the Humane Society.
For the first two weeks the cats had a very quiet setting with a very limited number of caregivers, to reduce the stress on them.
Aside from staff and these limited volunteers only the youth attending the RDHS Rescue Camp were able to see the cats.
RDHS shelter manager Renee Householder says several recently-built “flophouses” will allow the cats to move outside soon.
She said one of the outdoor shelters will even be heated for the cats’ comfort during the winter.
The next step is to slowly acclimate the cats to their potential new homes.
While this process continues costs for purchasing cat litter, food, and additional medical care will be necessary.
Householder estimates the cost per cat between $7-$12, and while they don’t eat much, they do need shots and other amenities to keep them comfortable and healthy.
Individuals wishing to donate supplies can bring those items to Life Skills at 2908 Foothill Blvd between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Please call Jana Meeks at 307-389-8964 after 5 p.m.
Financial donations can be made through the Red Desert Humane Society north of Rock Springs on Yellowstone Road.
RDHS will ensure that donations to this project are credited for the Community Cat project.
Donations have already come in from SweetwaterNow; Katie Glennemier; Able Hands; Access, Balance & Change; WyoData Security, Inc – Blaine Tate; and Joey Sheeley.
All this work brings to light a bigger conversation; how to help other community cats in Sweetwater County.
To this end, the group has created a Facebook page with hopes of providing a resource page for those caring for community cats.
Search for “Sweetwater County Community Cats” to follow the page and share your information.
The next step could be something like a “Town Hall Meeting” to talk about ways to share resources or build support for managing these populations.
If you are interested in being part of this group please seek out the Facebook page and join the group discussions.