Friday, January 30, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Cat’s meow: Local trapper helps control feral colonies

John R. sets traps in some bushes outside a shopping center in Woodland that is home to a group of feral cats. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | August 20, 2011 |

John R. has a number for you: 1,330.

That’s how many feral cats he has trapped, then released back to the great outdoors after getting them spayed or neutered.

He started the gig in January 2009 and has been so successful at it, he asked that his last name not be published. He said he learned the hard way that without some anonymity, people will track him down and leave boxes of kittens at his doorstep.

John, a big guy with wire-rim glasses, black sneakers and a fanny pack, is not your average cat lady.

In fact, he and his wife have never owned a cat. They have four basset hounds.

John began trapping ferals almost by accident. He was at work one day in late 2008, when he noticed birds nesting in the building next door.

“I scattered out some bird seed every time I came to work. It wasn’t too many days after that, I started seeing feathers,” John recalled. “I had not realized there was a feral cat colony here and the cats very quickly figured out that if they sat under my truck, when I threw bird seed behind the truck, the birds would come down. … It’s amazing how clever cats are.”

He soon learned how the feral colony formed in that industrial area of Woodland, where he owns an engineering company that builds devices for robots.

The owner of a business nearby had brought cats in to address a mouse problem, John said.

But the cats were never spayed and neutered, he said. Before long, they were breeding and the mouse problem had transformed into a feral cat problem.

There were 49 cats the last time he checked.

“The sad problem is people don’t like to run over them, so that’s one potential problem — traffic risk,” John said. “The other problem is when they poop on people’s property, so there’s a health hazard.”

Other disruptions, such as breeding, fighting, yelling at night and spraying, are usually resolved when the cats are spayed and neutered, he said.

John figured out how to catch them using wire traps and transport them to the animal shelter to get them fixed.

Kittens less than 4 weeks old can be tamed and adopted to households, but adult ferals are released back where they were found.

At least 85 percent of the cat colony must be fixed before it will stop growing, John said.

He embraced the challenge. He searched for the best traps and devised the most efficient method to capture the felines and the safest way to transport them.

John suddenly had a new — albeit unlikely — hobby.

And the more he worked with ferals, the sharper his eye when it came to spotting them in other parts of town.

He designed and built a special trailer that can hold 70 cats. It can be easily hosed down after each use and he covered the exterior with roofing paint to keep the inside cool.

Steadily, through word-of-mouth, he gained a reputation as a reliable trap-and-release guy. His network of volunteers grew; they help him set and collect traps every weekend at locations throughout the counties of Yolo, Sacramento and Solano.

While John requests donations for the cost of the surgeries — $15 per cat — he pays for the gas, equipment and cat food himself.

“Cats was just my thing,” he said. “If I can do this thing right, I’m comfortable other people are doing their things right, and between enough of us doing these things, we’ll solve a lot of problems.”

John won’t give his last name, but he is willing to help. Anyone with a feral cat problem can email him at [email protected]

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Suspected Ebola patient being treated at UCD Med Center

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Town hall focuses on Coordinated Care Initiative

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Schools give parents tools to help kids thrive

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Two more cases of measles in Northern California in children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Dartmouth bans hard liquor

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2

     
    All voices welcome at sing-along Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Great Chefs Program will feature Mulvaney

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Free tax preparation service begins Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3Comments are off for this post

     
    No bare bottoms, thanks to CommuniCare’s Diaper Drive

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Storyteller relies on nature as his subject on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Still time to purchase tickets for DHS Cabaret

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    February science fun set at Explorit

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Take a photo tour of Cuba at Flyway Nights talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    See wigeons, curlews and meadowlarks at city wetlands

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Time for bed … with Grandma

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    We’re grateful for bingo proceeds

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    A ‘new deal’ for the WPA building

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Protect root zone to save trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Weigh quality of life, density

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Olive expert joins St. James event

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    UCD has another tough football schedule in 2015

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Gould’s influence felt mightily in recent Super Bowls

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Mustangs hold off UCD women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD men set new school D-I era win record

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sharks double up Ducks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Watney, Woods start slow at TPC Scottsdale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Recall that first Aggie TV game, national title?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Song of the Sea’ is an enchanting fable

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    ‘Artist’s Connection’ launches on DCTV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Gross’ paintings highlight a slice of Northern California

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    February show at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 is ‘Food for Thought’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: A9