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Yard sale profits go to help vaccinate feral cat colonies

Women check ot merchandise at the indoor yard sale at George Ward Memorial Library in Dolgeville, a fundraiser for the Dolgeville Cat Action Team Saturday to trap feral cats, spay or neuter them, provide rabies vaccinations. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

DOGLEVILLE — Feral cats are often unfriendly to humans and sometimes more than a nuisance.

Ferals became a more obvious health issue when, early last summer, a human rabies case was confirmed from a feral cat colony.

This gave new impetus to the Cat Action Team, which has made its aim to capture and spay or neuter ferals to reduce their population and get them vaccinated against the rabies virus.

The group held an indoor yard sale this past weekend at the old George Ward Memorial Library to fund its efforts.

Since September of last year, CAT has gotten 65 cats spayed or neutered and vaccinated and found homes for 40.

“By bringing down the population, it makes our community safer,” said Penny Primeau of CAT, an arm of Dolgeville Forward. Dogleville Forward was established to better the community and help victims of devastating flooding of East Canada Creek on Nov. 1.

The other goal is to find homes for kittens or grown cats that can be domesticated — enabling them to trust people.

“If you get cats early enough, they can be friendly,” she said. “It is just a matter of having a few weeks of patience with them,” Primeau said. “We try to get them semi-trained and get people to adopt them.”

If the cats can’t adjust to people, they are returned to their colonies, where they won’t reproduce and are less likely to fight, be noisy and spray urine.

Alley Cat Allies, a national cat advocacy group, estimated that trapping-neutering-returning cats to their colonies can reduce the colony sizes from 16 to 66 percent, even faster if some cats can be adopted.

Some cats become feral after being abandoned by their owners or they run away, said Primeau. She said the Herkimer County Humane Society is overwhelmed with cats.

Dot James of Dolgeville said farmers have traditionally taken in cats as mousers but “there aren’t as many farms anymore.”

Shoppers who came to the yard sale were looking for good buys, but also wanted to help cats.

“I heard that they were doing this for cats,” said Kathy Williams of Palatine Bridge. “We are animal people. My daughter has five cats.”

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