MARYVILLE, Mo. — Got cats? A local cat behaviorist is starting a project to help capture, neuter or spay then release the feral cats of Maryville, but she needs help finding them.
Local cat behaviorist Jami Hull, of Claws to the Walls, LLC, is in the beginning stages of a feral cat trapping venture with the help of Kristina Martinez, officer with the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department.
She said her main goal is to help curb the ever-rising cat population within the city, but that she’s always had a connection with felines.
“I’ve always kind of had a passion for cats,” Hull said. Wanting to further her education beyond the rescuing she had been doing, she went to an animal behavioral college and got a degree as a cat trainer.
“Since graduating, I’ve been working with our shelter,” she said, and has what she calls “a failed foster,” her now-adopted cat Belle. Hull worked with Belle because she had been lashing out and then ended up keeping her. Currently she has a second foster, Chevy, who “was on the brink of death and failing to thrive,” Hull said. “She’s been amazing and gaining weight steadily.”
Hull said the problem typically is population-based. She’s also working with an animal shelter in Clarinda, Iowa.
“Unfortunately, the problem sort of grows with the population,” Hull explained. “The more college kids we have that say, ‘Oh I’m going to have a pet,’ then they realize they’re not allowed to have a pet and just let their cat outside.”
She said Martinez said that’s a lot of the problem around campus, but that it is a moderate issue citywide.
A few years ago, Hull trapped a few feral cats near Breaktime, before the new Casey’s was built. She was able to tame those cats and find them homes.
“That was really great, it doesn’t always work out that way,” she said. “Females that are in heat, they can start reproducing as kittens at just 4 months of age,” she said. “To think about all these babies themselves get stuck having 10 litters of kittens, that’s kind of what I’m hoping to prevent with the trap, neuter and releasing.”
Still in the planning stage, the pair intend to hold a community meeting to map out a plan for spring trapping.
“We’re going to have a big map, and we’re hoping that the community members can pinpoint where they see their colonies,” Hull said. “We’re trying to find people who are going to be on board, because it’s more than just saying they have a cat.”
She went on to explain they need people to not only tell them where the cats are, but also be willing to watch the trap in case a cat is caught and provide more information about times of day they see them, etc. She said a big issue is manpower, and that they’re more than willing to come set and pick up the traps, but they can’t be on hand to watch them all.
Hull hopes the meeting will help give them locations and information enough to find the cats and trap them.
“It’s all humane,” she said. “We’ll just set our traps out and hopefully we’ll have a big help from the community.”
Once a cat is caught, he or she will be taken to Nodaway Veterinary Clinic, Inc. She said they haven’t figured out all the details with Dr. Edward Powell, but that they were still working on it.
She said right now, they are planning to have both a spring and fall trapping event, but it is all still in the process of being set.
“Hopefully that will help to stop them from continuing to populate,” Hull said.
Because there likely will be unplanned occurrences, (i.e. a cat is pregnant already or injured) she said they will accept donations.
“It feels good definitely to try to help them,” Hull said.
The community meeting is open to anyone who wants to help or perhaps learn about what they can do. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 in a meeting room at the University Police Department.
For more information, you can call Hull at 660-254-1789 or find the “Trap-neuter-return Information Meeting” event on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2rttPNJ.