Millville Mayor Tim Shannon holds Kyle, a feral cat that now has the run of his home. Kyle was part of a feral cat colony that Shannon adopted to help bolster the city's trap-neuter-release program.

Thomas Barlas

New efforts to keep feral cat colonies under control are moving ahead in at least one of two Cumberland County municipalities that adopted trap-neuter-release programs last year.

At least 20 people have adopted colonies in Millville since the city began its program in April, said officials with Animal Friends Foundation.

While the initial rush of people who wanted to sponsor the colonies has waned a bit, the results show that people are interested in the program, said Lew Vinci, spokesman for the Vineland-based organization.

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Millville Mayor Tim Shannon said he has not received any calls about the program thus far.

“So this mayor is taking the position that no news is good news,” he said. “I would say we’re taking a step in the right direction. Anything we can do to curtail that population is a good step. It also gives those cats the opportunity to live something of a decent life.”

Vineland authorized its program in November. Vineland’s Anima Control Officer Dian Starn could not be reached for comment. Vinci said Vineland officials are organizing their program.

Officials in both Vineland and Millville said they started the programs in part to reduce animal-control costs.

However, officials in Vineland said another reason they opted for the program was to control feral cat colonies that were becoming active in the downtown Landis Avenue business district. Some cats had even managed to get into some stores, they said.

The programs in Millville and Vineland are essentially the same: Persons can sponsor a feral cat colony. They are then required to take care of the cats, which includes getting them vaccinated for diseases such as rabies and making sure they are all sterilized.

According to the ASPCA, the number of feral cats nationwide is estimated to be in the tens of millions. ASPCA endorses trap-neuter-release programs, stating on its website that is the “only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies.”

Trap-neuter-release programs help stabilize and eventually reduce the number of feral cat colonies, ASPCA officials contend. They also say that the program reduces nuisance behaviors such as spraying, noise and fighting.

Shannon and his wife have operated a trap-neuter-return program at their home for years. Shannon became one of the first sponsors of a municipality’s feral cat colony program in an attempt to boost the program.

Shannon said the family’s colony had about 20 cats. That number is now down to about 11 or 12, he said.

That includes Kyle, a cat that became domesticated enough to live inside the Shannons’ home.

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