It’s a new organization, but it is making surprising headway with something that just might need a miracle to succeed — adopting out feral cats.
The group is using a sort of antiquated method for the social media age. They are texting information and photos to a network of people who spread the word.
The kittens we’re talking about aren’t your well-groomed kittens from someone’s favorite house pet. Some are in better shape than others. Some are a little scruffy.
None are the eat-your-hand-off wild ferals that hang out at industrial sites. Most are strays and homeless kittens that the city animal control officer or others have brought to the Feral Feline Coalition of Ocean Springs.
The FFC is a group that organized this year over the issue of ferals and the way ferals had been treated by the city in the past.
Linda Cox, a leader in the organization, said she estimates the number of feral colonies in Ocean Springs at 50. They are in groups of 10 to 30 cats.
She said there were some like-minded people who thought it was barbaric the way ferals were trapped by the city and hauled to the county animal shelter in Gautier to be euthanized.
These people — devoted to feeding feral colonies — were instrumental in helping change the city animal ordinance to exempt cats from the city leash laws earlier this year. Cats are now allowed to wander outside their owner’s property without being picked up, as long as they have their shots and don’t become a nuisance.
Now the group has turned its focus and resources to reducing the size of colonies by trapping the cats, spaying or neutering them, and releasing them back to the colony.
And they are getting kittens adopted too.
So this is how they do it:
Cox has a network of 25 to 30 cellphone numbers. A cat comes in. Cox photographs it and texts out the photo and a description of the kitten or kittens. Often they have litter mates.
The people in the network have contacts of their own and forward the information.
“Someone’s cat died, and they want a cat,” Cox said.
The group has actually been successful placing siblings together.
I say, “Little brother and sister, cute, play well together,” she said, “and the information gets connected to a bigger web.”
In a recent text she wrote: “Got a home for the little girl already. Man, I love this group. Everyone spreads the word. And miracles happen.”
She said, “Somebody’s got to step up. We can’t just keep killing these animals.”
The surprise is that they have been relatively successful.
“We haven’t gone through hundreds, but we’ve managed to find homes for the ones that have been brought to us,” Cox said.
She said Adam Wilson, the city animal control officer, has been great. He brings them kittens he finds that have been abandoned or are living on the street. It’s an agreement the coalition made with the city, sanctioned by city leaders.
“Our (adoption) numbers aren’t massive, but we’ve been successful with the numbers we have,” she said.
Some of these kittens haven’t had much human contact, but the people who adopt them know what they are getting.
Some can’t be made gentle, and they go back to the colony they came from. But some were just homeless, she said, dumped or abandoned and roaming the streets.
“These are nice little cats, nothing fantastic to look, at but they’re friendly and we’re able to find a home for them.”
In the open, ferals don’t last 3-4 years, she said, even if someone looks after them in a colony.
She said it’s a relatively easy task to take care of a colony. Food is placed on the ground and the water bowls are hidden.
People do it behind the scenes, and now they have the FFC.
“Sometimes we’ll set people to take care of colonies,” she said, helping with financing the food for awhile.
“We want to make sure someone is feeding or looking out for them,” she said. “We don’t want them starving.”
If you want to help
- The Feral Feline Coalition is a designated nonprofit. You can make a donation at Hancock Bank: Feral Feline Coalition of Ocean Springs. If you let them know, the treasurer will send a tax document.
- You can add your phone number to the adoption text list and help cats find homes: email@example.com