Dear Mr. Cohen:
I live in Powell River BC on the Sunshine coast. I saw the CBC news item about your idea to spay and neuter feral cats and then release them back into the community.. The SPCA in Powell River has a policy of "no kill and release" since 2005. When I moved here in 2004 it was not so. I bought a house that came with a group of feral cats and decided to use some of an inheritance I received, to spay and neuter all of them and also give them the necessary shots so there was less risk of disease.
My next door neighbour pledged to feed them "forever" and another neighbour continued to provide shelters outside for them. The local vetranarian had me bring them in one or two at a time every two days. He also gave me a good discount as there were 15 cats and more than half were females. The cats were captured in a cage (rented from the SPCA) and then taken in to be operated on. They had no problems with the surgery and were back on my property and released in the evening. ( Brought in early morning, operated on, kept by the vet until awake and alert.) They hid out for a day or two but came around when my neighbour put the food out as she usually did. Some of the cats survive to this day. They are healthy, nonaggressive and do not fixate on killing birds as they receive food from us. They do keep the rodent population in check, however. That for me is a good thing.
We did lose some of the cats to the road traffic. Two others died of internal problems and some we were able to adopt out. There are five cats remaining. We have found that unneutered cats do not hang around, as there are no females to mate with. Female cats have never shown up. This could be because unspayed females have their own area and do not roam too far.
Our cats know us. They allow us to pet them and two of them can be picked up. These cats are a family and group together in the evening for food, socializing and other "cat affairs". I have learned much about the secret lives of felines from these animals.
After I did this, the SPCA decided to have a spay and neuter program for stray cats. They also offer free spay and neutering to low income folks. This is made possible by a fund setup by a woman who died and left money for this purpose.
I hope you are sucessful with your idea. It does work. By not killing feral cats we make ourselves into better humans. These animals are there because someone didn't care. I really beleive, that by not treating feral cats as throw away garbage we recognize their lives as beings. I have never regreted the action I took in 2004.
It did make a difference in my life, my neighbours lives and the life of my community.
Good luck to you........remember the power of one.
Yours Elizabeth Stuef ( former Montrealer: NDG, still have a cat lovng sister and brother there).