Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 34
 
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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57 Cats Captured in Borough Neighborhood

Dilshanie Perera

With about eight felines still on the loose, 57 stray cats and kittens have been captured from the Wilton Street and Cedar Lane area by Princeton Animal Control over the past two months.

Most of the cats were caught over a period of two weeks, according to Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson, with the most recent capture occurring on Monday.

Mr. Johnson will only attempt to apprehend the remaining felines when the weather is cool, explaining that he doesn’t “feel comfortable leaving them sitting in a cage in 100-degree heat.”

“Out of my 16 years of being in town, this has been the worst,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to the sheer number of cats and kittens picked up from Wilton Street. In previous years he has dealt with five to 10 strays in a cat colony.

All of the cats were based in one home on Wilton Street, and are all likely descendants from six cats that were brought from New York by the daughter of a resident. “She wanted me to pick them up last summer, but I couldn’t because they’re not strays,” Mr. Johnson explained.

“The cats ended up going in and out, and the first litter became another litter, and a third,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that those that are still on the loose involve four adult females, two adult males, and two kittens. He surmised that all the adults are from the original group of cats brought to Princeton from New York, because after a cat is caged once, it is extremely difficult getting it into a cage a second time.

Upon receiving a complaint about cats disturbing the area birds, Mr. Johnson began his investigation. The cats had been hunting birds and squirrels, and had been fed by neighbors.

As for the health hazards a cat infestation poses to humans, Mr. Johnson mentioned rabies and fleas as primary concerns.

The yards of area residences were “covered with fleas,” as were the cats, who were all immediately treated with Frontline upon capture, according to Mr. Johnson.

Approximately 10 of the cats have been euthanized because of health issues, including leukemia and feline AIDS, or extreme aggression. Rabies was not found in the population.

The rest have been delivered to SAVE, a nonprofit shelter and animal welfare organization in Princeton. “It’s unbelievable work they’re doing at SAVE,” Mr. Johnson marveled.

SAVE’s Executive Director Karen Azarchi reported that all cats are examined by the staff veterinarian, given the proper vaccinations, and are spayed or neutered before being adopted. She reported that the majority of the recently captured cats are friendly, or are kittens whose personalities haven’t been formed yet, and that the organization endeavors to match owners to animals they would be most compatible with.

Shelter Manager at SAVE Donielle Killian reported that 13 cats and kittens from the captured stray colony have already been adopted since June 29, when Animal Control began depositing them at the shelter.

In response to a memo from Health Officer David Henry from the Regional Health Department, Borough Council recently passed a resolution extending the limit of SAVE’s contract for animal shelter services to $9,500, which represents an increase of $4,500 from the normal yearly total.

Increasing the funds available to SAVE is directly related to the increased cost of the capture, care, and shelter of the stray cats from Wilton Street.

Ms. Azarchi invited the public to peruse SAVE’s website, www.savehomelessanimals.org, for more information, or to stop by the shelter, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

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