Friends of Feral and Homeless Cats and Kittens ‘fills a void’
Laura Whitcomb has a mission — to tend to the needs of feral and homeless cats.
To that end, Whitcomb recently founded Friends of Feral and Homeless Cats and Kittens Inc., a nonprofit organization housed at 8 Wells Road in New Milford.
“No old or sick cat is ever left to fend for themselves, no feral cat is left without food or shelter,” she said of her mission.
“It is so important to improve the lives of cats and kittens that are not adoptable,” Whitcomb said.
An indoor tag sale and craft fair, featuring a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction, to benefit the organization will be held July 22-23 at the farm.
Vendors for the sale and donations are sought.
Whitcomb founded Wells Valley Cat Sanctuary in New Milford in 2013, but by last year it had grown larger than Whitcomb’s expectations.
The organization formed two separate entities: Friends of Feral and Homeless Cats and Kittens Inc., which focuses on feral cats and kittens, and Wells Valley Cat Sanctuary, which retains adoptable cats and kittens.
“I wanted to get back to what I really wanted to do” when Wells Valley started, Whitcomb said of why she founded Feral and Homeless Cats and Kittens.
The primary goal of the organization is trap, neuter and return (TNR) feral cats.
If the cat can be socialized, the group will work to find it a home. Those that are feral are returned to their colonies if there is a caretaker, or if old and in poor health, they will remain with the organization.
Healthy young feral cats that have no place to go back to are placed in barn situations whenever possible.
“I want people to be more educated and recognize the importance of vaccinating and neutering cats,” she said.
A female cat can have up to two or three litters each year, adding to the already high population of feral cats.
Whitcomb said there are “thousands” of feral cats in New Milford alone.
Renee Gardner, manager of Animal Welfare Society in New Milford, emphasized the causes of the increasing feral population: Cats turn feral if left behind by their homeowners upon a move; financial strains to have a cat vaccinated and neutered; and construction projects.
“People think a cat will do fine (if left behind), but a cat will turn feral and then have generations of feral kittens (if a cat isn’t neutered),” Gardner said.
The organization has a good working relationship with AWS, according to AWS shelter attendant Lauren Hamed.
“If (Laura) comes across a non-feral cat, she’ll refer to us, and if we are aware of a feral cat, we will call her,” Hamed said.
Whitcomb’s organization is “filling a need we’ve had at AWS for years,” Gardner said.
“This fills a big void by caring for them and keeping them healthy and out of the public domain,” she said.
A unique aspect of Friends of Feral and Homeless Cats is that it offers assistance to cats that carry the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which comprises the animal’s immune system, making them more susceptible to various secondary infections, such as upper respiratory infections.
Caring for the animals, sick or not, is expensive. That’s why the Friends of Feral and Homeless Cats and Kittens offers a sponsorship program.
A half sponsorship of $12.50 per month, or one annual donation of $125, and a full sponsorship of $25 per month, or one annual donation of $250, are available. In addition, donations of any amount are accepted.
For information about the organization, call 860-733-9524.