A Day in the Life: Our Community Cat Wrangler

Lexi (now Jinx) thriving is now thriving in her new home.

We sat down for an interview with Catie, LHS’ Community Cat Coordinator, to give you a glimpse of what her workday is like in spring – typically the start of the busiest time of year for all things cats!

How does kitten season impact the shelter and your role as Community Cat Coordinator?

Kitten season is very exciting at LHS and busier than normal for staff and volunteers. We get a lot of calls from members of the community who have found kittens or an active cat colony. We introduce them to LHS programs that can help them, like trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR), subsidized spay/neuter, foster-finder, and even adoption. It’s my favorite time of year because it’s a chance to really outreach with our communities, and I spend a lot of time speaking with fosters and excited adopters, while also directing folks to our great new online chatbot resource – all with the goal of reducing and helping to keep the population of community cats in our area healthy.

How can people best help cats they find in their neighborhood?

This is the question I’m asked most often: “I’ve found a cat or cats, what do I do now?” I always tell people the first step is to assess the situation: Is there one cat or multiples? Is this a new litter of kittens with their mom or a colony of adult community cats? Does any cat appear to be sick or injured or is everyone healthy?

Each situation is different and requires a different set of actions to ensure the best outcomes for both the cat and the people involved. The best outcome is the ultimate goal. Despite what people may think, friendly cats don’t necessarily need to be adopted into a home or brought into a shelter if they’re thriving outside. And some cats that would benefit from adoption can bypass the shelter all together thanks to our foster-finder program that empowers community members to house cats and help look for an adoptive home. So, every situation, like every cat, is different.

What is trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) and why is the program important?

TNVR is important because it helps control the cat population – especially during springtime. During this season, cats are mating, fighting for territory, and interacting more than normal, so the more cats that are vaccinated and spayed/neutered, the better for the safety of the cat and for public health concerns surrounding communicable diseases, like rabies.

What’s one takeaway you’d like the public to remember about cats or cat behavior at this time of year?

A good takeaway from kitten season is that not all kittens need “rescuing”. It’s important to remember that community cat moms are good moms and won’t abandon a kitten unless they feel they won’t survive. Most of the time when you see a kitten alone, chances are that Mom is off finding food or moving her kittens one by one to a new location. In these situations, no human intervention or “kitten-napping” is needed. However, as always, if you think something is wrong or a cat is in danger, call our Animal Response Team (ART) for guidance.

Community collaboration is key to your work. Can you share a collaboration success story you’re proud of?

We’ve had many, but one that comes to mind is with a frequent volunteer trapper who works with us named (appropriately) Kat. Kat found a cat (Lexi) who she believed was too social and friendly to be outdoors, but she wasn’t able to adopt her personally. Kat agreed to foster Lexi, and after some time and networking, plus medical care, spay surgery, and vaccines through LHS, Lexi was adopted into the perfect, loving home, where she’s still thriving. I love this story because it shows how different programs of ours combine with awesome community members to create one stellar outcome.

Many thanks to Catie for all her work making life better for local cats, and for taking the time to share her insight during this busy time of year.