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Feral Cats in Live Oak

By Tami Stevenson

As long as people keep abandoning their cute, cuddly little kittens after they grow up - feral cats will always be around. However, the feral cats in Live Oak are in for a nice surprise. -Photo: Tami Stevenson

Feral cats may be considered a nuisance to some, but there are many places where they are seen as an asset because of their ability to control rodents. Regardless of how we view them, feral cats are a reality in many urban and rural areas, including the Suwannee Valley, and will continue to exist as long as we humans “renege on our contract with the cat”.
There is only one solution that is both effective and humane, but it does require serious commitment. Have you ever heard of the term TNR? It stands for Trap, Neuter and Return. Some folks in Live Oak intend to start doing just that.
The decision to become involved in establishing a humane management program for feral cats is not one to be taken lightly. There are many things that need to be considered, including the viability and feasibility of such an undertaking. Finding the resources (time, money and people) needed to ensure its success will be the main focus.


Feral cats are commonplace in cities and suburbs. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But their is an upswing - they help keep rat and mice populations down.
- Photo: Tami Stevenson

The TNR method has been successfully used in many countries for decades including the USA, England, Denmark and South Africa. These programs are aimed at reducing the number of cats on site in order to create a smaller, stable and controlled population.
According to the LA Times website, an animal advocacy and rescue group in Los Angeles called ‘The Working Cats program of Voice for the Animals’ is successfully managing their feral cat and rodent population with the TNR method. They placed feral cats in a handful of police stations with rodent problems, just as the group placed cats in the rat-plagued downtown flower district several years before that – with great effect.
The cats’ reputation as crafty and successful exterminators grew after feral cats were also introduced to the parking lot of the Wilshire Division. Rats had been burrowing into the equipment bags that bicycle officers stored in outside cages; inside the facility, mice were sometimes scurrying across people’s desks.


You may see more jars like this setting on counters at local businesses.
-Photo: Tami Stevenson

The LA Times quoted a police captain, “Once we got the cats – problem solved,” said Cmdr. Kirk Albanese, a captain at the Wilshire station at the time. “I was almost an immediate believer.”
Feral cats have been in Live Oak for decades. There are at least four or five known colonies living in various places in the city and surrounding areas. Barney and Sherry Everett of Live Oak are helping form a group called ‘Save The Cats of Live Oak.’ They held their first meeting with twelve people in attendance. Barney Everett says their main goal right now is to make people aware of the cats and how they can help the situation. By neutering and spading, they live longer, lead healthier lives and keep the environment free of rodents. Veterinarians say when the cats are spayed and neutered things change in their body and they are more resistant to disease and sickness. They are healthier and stronger. Best of all, they won’t be increasing the cat population. However, as mentioned in the beginning, as long as we humans ‘renege on our contract with the cat,’ the TNR method will be an ongoing initiative.
According to Everett there is an organization in Jacksonville doing this and it is very successful from what he has heard and he will be checking into that.
“We can experiment to find out what works but if we could find other towns that have done this successfully it would be really helpful.” Everett said.
Although this was pretty much his idea, Barney Everett says he is not really the leader.
“Last night, I think every person at the meeting was capable of being a leader.” They plan to elect officers and apply for a 501c3 to become a non-profit organization.
At the moment they are looking for volunteers who would be willing to donate their time, money or resources. For example they need cat food, automatic watering dispensers, live traps and people to transport the cats back and forth to the vet, rescue centers and wherever else they may need to go.
“If everybody works together it makes less of a burden rather than just two or three people trying to do it all,” he said.


This duck seems to be getting along just fine with the feral cats. -Photo: Tami Stevenson

According to Everett, one of the people in the group is familiar with writing grants and is checking into the possibility of applying for a grant to help with vet bills and other major expenses.
If you are serious about getting involved with caring for feral cats, there are a few options available, for example, you could start off by simply volunteering to help as a feeder or become a foster home for an existing individual or group caring for the feral cats in your area. You could also assist with adoptions, fundraising efforts and publicity.
Anyone that is interested in helping with this program is encouraged to attend their meetings. The next meeting will be held on February 24 at 5:30 p.m. It is tentatively going to be held at Big Wheel Marketplace located on Howard Street in Live Oak. For more information you may contact Barney and Sherry Everett at 386-364-1006.