Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Kristen Brown Gasnow and Diane Smith changed the world for area stray and feral cats. When they began caring for and feeding stray cats, there wasn’t a local no-kill organization helping stray or feral cats.
Gasnow and Smith began working as a grassroots collective with other like-minded volunteers and non-profit agencies. In 2008, the group received official non-profit status under the name Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee (FFF).
The organization is modeled after the national Alley Cat Allies’ trap/spay-neuter/release program.
FFF volunteer Rich McCord says, “A feral cat has never been socialized. It’s afraid of humans and doesn’t want to interact with humans. A feral cat will do what it can to stay away from people.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell to difference between stray and feral cats. A stray might be afraid and living in a feral colony. Some people dump cats and those strays can become feral. Kittens born to that unfixed stray are born in the wild and never had interaction with humans. If we can get them young enough, we can turn those back into domesticated cats.”
McCord says, “I have a big heart for animals. Every animal deserves a long helathy life. We try to help everyhone we can. If you aren’t willing to do anything to help, then we can’t help you.”
McCord continues, “Trapping and killing cats does not work. It creates a vacuum effect. A colony exists because there is a stable food source or someone is feeding them. A colony has enough places for the cats to feel secure. If you went in and trapped 30 cats and then moved them or killed them, the same food sources and safe spots will still exist in the original colony location. More cats will migrate to that area.
“If people don’t get their animals or a colony of animals spayed or neutered, inbreeding will occur, and animals will be sick. We have trapped up to 50 cats in one colony. By maintaing a colony you won’t get an explosion of 3 litters a year, with an average of 3-4 kittens per litter. A trapped and spayed/neutered cat can live outdoors for up to 4-7 years. We have some that are 10 years old.”
McCord continues, “You’d be amazed at how many colonies there are. We’ve never been able to document all colonies because caretakers are protective of their colonies. Most of these colonies are away from people.
“FFF doesn’t publicize the location of a colony because people will start dumping animals at the colony, or people who engage in animal cruelty will do what they can to harm a colony. If the colony is on private property, we try to work with the property owner, and they are usually willing to work with us.”
McCord says, “All the money we generate from feral kitten and stray cat adoptions at Pet Smart on Morrell Road goes toward helping the general public pay for spaying and neutering their colonies.
In 2013, 406 cats were adopted at Pet Smart on Morrell Road. FFF continues to need volunteers to foster the kittens or stray cats until they get adopted. Other volunteers have the financial means to feed and maintain a colony.”
“The University of Tennessee Veterinary Clinic also hosts a ‘Feral Fixin’ Day’ approximately 3-4 times a year. Supervised UT vet students will spay/neuter up to 100-130 cats at each feral fix. It still costs FFF money to participate but the rate is much cheaper.”
McCord says, “Get you pet spayed or neutered. Don’t wait until your animal population gets out of control. Let us help you with your planned pethood.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
© Debra Dylan, 2014.
nationwide program TNR trap neuter and return. many studies done trap and kill doesn’t work. it creates a vaccum effect. if you went in and trapped 30 cats and kelled them all. They had stable food source someone was feeding them, mice, trash, there’s enough safe places they can feel secure. There is a reason those cats are there. you come in and trap and kill them or move them. that sames food source and safe spot is still there. More cats will migrate to that area.
Great resource Alley Cat Allies. a nationwide program. We try to mirrow ourselves with their info and model for here in knoxville.
IF they have time or resources or money we’ve got overl 50 people all volunteers
you’d be amazed how many colonies sthere are. we’ve never really tried to document colonies because each person is protective of their colony.
Sir Charles – he had an eye condition. born w/o eyelids. it’s fixable and surgery 2500$ this is one we caught at a large colony result of inbreeding. other health prob. he was sweet cat. some are strays get fixed he wasnr feral. raised monry quickly. we were amazes.
paypal. registered with IGive online purchase. kroger awards progra, doesnt take points from you. kroger gives mobney from your. other fundraisers, pancake vreakasts, sell chocolate