March 7th, 2023
By Beth Gammie, Director of Field Services
Last August, the RedRover Responders team joined forces with Operation Catnip to create Coastal Cats, an initiative to provide proactive support for free-roaming cats in hurricane- and flood-prone coastal communities in Wakulla County, Florida. In addition to assisting with large-scale TNR (trap-neuter-return) events, Coastal Cats also provides support for local cat groups through training on volunteer recruitment, working with local caregivers, and developing a trap-lend program.
During our first visit in August 2022, we realized just how great the need for TNR was and began planning our next visit for 2023.
With BISSELL Pet Foundation as our generous event sponsor, Coastal Cats returned to Wakulla County in mid-February for our next event with local animal welfare group PAWS of Wakulla. Over the course of two days, we humanely trapped 141 cats who were then spayed/neutered, treated for fleas and other parasites, and provided with additional medical care as needed. Once recovered, we returned the cats to the exact place where they were trapped and living happily. Caregivers were thrilled to have our support in preventing more litters of kittens, and to have these beloved cats vaccinated and treated.
During both our visits, we’ve focused on the same specific trapping areas in order to reach a 70-90% sterilization rate – the point at which populations stabilize and stop growing. Visiting the same locations also gave us an opportunity to see some “alumni” cats from the August TNR who were living their best lives along the Florida Gulf coast. Our local partners also reported a notable absence of kittens this year (kitten season is year-round in this area) – a clear indication our efforts are working! Not only does this project help to reduce cat overpopulation, it also alleviates the strain on overcrowded shelters and the dedicated caretakers who provide so much for these community cats – a win-win!
To help PAWS of Wakulla build on the momentum of these 2 TNR events, RedRover is funding 100 additional spay/neuter surgeries for any we were unable to trap in August/February.
We’re so grateful to our partners who make this important, lifesaving work possible – and BISSELL Pet Foundation, which has committed to sponsoring the next Coastal Cats TNR event, too!