Community cats program awaits first steps

The Community Cat program aimed at reducing the number of feral cats in Winnemucca and Humboldt County remains on hold, awaiting estimates for remodeling a building to house the operation. The project plans to use a Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program that also includes the possibility of adoption.

Winnemucca Animal Rescue Director Christina Kenison updated Winnemucca City Council and the Humboldt County Board of Commissioners on Monday on the progress of the Community Cat program’s search for an adequate location.

Kenison said she hoped to work with George Miller to put together an estimate for the remodeling costs. She said she would also need to contact a plumber for an estimate as well.

Kenison said she had some grant and sponsorship sources in mind, including the Nevada Humane Society, but she couldn’t apply for grants until the question of the building was solved.

The update also renewed concerns about whether the program was necessary in both the city and the county.

Winnemucca Mayor Di An Putnam agreed that Winnemucca does have a problem with feral cat populations. “I know the program is needed in the county and the city. We don’t have a means of doing anything to help the population of cats,” Putnam said. “It takes really a lot of time before you see a reduction in the numbers.”

Commissioner Ron Cerri said he didn’t think feral cats posed as much of a problem in the rural areas, where cats help control rodent populations.

Kenison said dumping is one of the problems outside of the city limits. “You have people who are living in the city, or other parts of the county, and they have too many cats, and they decide to take them out somewhere and set them loose. Which is often a death sentence.”

Quite a few ranchers have complained about dumping, Kenison explained. “They’re just getting dumped out at their property, assuming that they’ll be taken care of.”

Some people have already taken it upon themselves to have the cats neutered, “but it’s like they’re treading water, because more cats get dumped, and nothing’s really being done about it.”

Putnam said the council and the board of commissioners couldn’t act until they knew how much money remodeling the building would take. She said once those estimates come through, the program could go before the city council before coming before the board of commissioners again.

“The first step is to be able to find out, is the building compatible, what would it cost to do it, and go from there,” Putnam said.