WHITBY -- Columnist Margaret Carney. July 18, 2012

WHITBY — Columnist Margaret Carney. July 18, 2012

It’s estimated there are 50,000 feral and unowned cats across Northwest Arkansas, according to the Northwest Arkansas Community Cat Project. They say that number is growing rapidly, so they’re joining forces with other local organizations to control the wild animals.

Mary Bartholomew says several feral cats have lived on her property in Prairie Grove for years.

“I regularly feed them,” Mary Bartholomew said. “They were really just starting to produce at multiple rates and it was getting to be way too many .”

She hopes she found a solution. The Northwest Arkansas Community Cat Project teamed up with the Friends of Prairie Grove Pound on Monday.

“It was literally a trap, neuter and return, so we have managed colonies and we don’t keep having the overabundance of litters every season,” Lesa Bement, Founder, Friends of Prairie Grove Pound said.

The organizations spayed and neutered almost 50 cats through a mobile vet clinic at the Prairie Grove Fire Department.

“So that’s 120, maybe 200 kittens that won’t be born this year, just this year. Not to say the kittens that those kittens would have next year,” Marcia Donley with the NWA Community Cat Project said.

Donley says feral cats are unsocialized, and most likely can never be tamed into a house pet.

“A truly feral cat, I liken it to a raccoon or a squirrel,” Donley explained.

Feral cats can serve a purpose. Often times living in barns and killing off unwanted field mice populations.

“When we first moved here we had a mouse problem in the house. They would come into the house somehow, and once the cats came around we have not had problems with snakes in the area or mice,” Bartholomew said.

For people like Mary, fixing feral cats means preventing overpopulation and euthanasia.

“I just think for the good of society and the good of the cat,” Bartholomew said.

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