HUNDREDS of feral cats are roaming Carlow town, with the problem now so immense it is virtually impossible to tackle.
“You are talking about every housing estate, every business premises, every alleyway in Carlow town, there are colonies of cats … hundreds of feral cats. We do our best, but it is overwhelming,” admitted Jane Hammond Kelly from the voluntary group Carlow SPCA.
“It’s not just a problem in Carlow town, it’s nationwide and a bigger problem than any one small voluntary group can handle. And, of course, in all this there are absolutely no rights for the cats,” she added.
Tamara Rychlikova, from Montgomery Street, Carlow contacted The Nationalist last week to express her concern about the problem. “I think the problem of feral cats is very bad in Carlow town, and it’s getting worse,” she said.
“I can’t open a window or the cats are in. They are fighting at night and bringing all sorts of diseases into people’s gardens … there is just not enough done to regulate them,” she said.
“All I’m asking is to create awareness of the issue,” Tamara said.
Last year, Tamara began trapping, neutering and releasing cats in her area, but despite initial improvements, things are as bad as ever.
Jane Hammond Kelly remarked that despite countless awareness campaigns about the importance of neutering, the problem continues to get worse.
“We have a trap, neuter, return policy, but you have to be realistic; we release back the healthy ones and put the sick ones to sleep.
“We have neutered hundreds of cats, but it’s never enough. You can never do enough,” added Jane, who admitted that the enormity of the problem can make it incredibly frustrating.
Jane revealed that she is regularly contacted by members of the public complaining about feral cats in their area, but the solution isn’t always accepted.
“People ring me wanting these cats gone. I do understand they can be a nuisance, but that isn’t realistic. There is no point moving a colony because another one will move in almost as quick,” said Jane.
Jane advises trapping and neutering the cats from a colony, then releasing a small number back into the area. They then will establish their own territory, preventing other cats coming in while controlling the numbers.
“If you are going to feed the cats, don’t do it at the back door; do it at the outskirts of the estates, because otherwise you’ll come out some day and there’ll be 12 kittens at your back door,” she warned.
Carlow SPCA has teams of volunteers who do go out at night to feed cats in these colonies, but their resources are always incredibly stretched.
“We have the shop Second Chance in Carlow Shopping Centre and sometimes very kind people help with the neutering costs, but it’s a huge problem,” she said.
A cat can get pregnant from 24 weeks’ old and have a litter of kittens, possibly three times a year.
“Do the maths – you can see how the numbers can get very big, very quickly,” said Jane.