St. George cat lady controls feral feline population one animal at a time

ST. GEORGE — It is a lot like herding cats because it is herding cats.

St. George-based One More Chance C.A.T.S. employs a technique of capture, spade/neuter and release of feral cats found throughout the city. Organizations across the county conduct a similar approach to controlling wild cat populations.

How it works, said the owner of the non-profit Kris Neal, is when a resident or business reports the location of a feral cat she will trap the cat, take them to one of several participating veterinarian clinics to have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated.

After a 24-hour recuperating period, the cats are typically returned to the location they were found.

Older cats – those with disabilities or severe injury – along with cats who are abandoned by their owners or outlive their owners will find their way to Neal’s home and either find a sanctuary to live out their lives or are adopted to a loving owner. There are also several feral cats living on her three-acre property that avoid human contact at all costs.

Neal estimates she cares for approximately 40 cats at any given time.

“There is a huge need for what we do,” she said. “One of the big problems is people abandon their cats and those cats breed and produce offspring that fear humans. Unless the cats are fixed, the population continues to grow.”

Feline experts estimate there are 70 million feral cats in America. The high number is a result of what little effort there is to control the population and the animal’s ability to reproduce quickly.

Many feral cats call the three-acre One More Chance property home. St. George, Utah, Feb. 25, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

“St. George is a perfect breeding ground,” Neal said. “The weather all year-round is mild enough and even the winters and summer, the cats are able to survive.”

The solution Neal found was to spade/neuter and release as an ethical way to control the feral cat population. Because of her efforts, Neal fixes hundreds of cats each year.

The program is funded through the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab.

The genesis for One More Chance Cat Rescue began in the 1990s when Neal and her husband bought a piece of property that had feral cats that would eat her dog’s food.

“This is really what got us started on trap and neuter,” Neal said. “I was kind of like everyone else that you could take them to the shelter and eliminate the problem, but at the time shelters were killing them.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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