Taranaki animal charity out to assist farmers cope with rodents

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Milo and Otis were trapped with two kittens. Now Milo and Otis are ready to find a new home somewhere in a barn. Photo / supplied

A Taranaki charity says they have both the problem and the solution when it comes to the number of stray cats in need of a home.

Daveena Taylor of the Taranaki Animal Protection Trust (TAPT) says the trust is dealing with hundreds of dumped cats and kittens, some of whom live in colonies in the area. Daveena and the other volunteers feed, trap, neuter, groom, and house as many cats and kittens as possible.

“However, some of the cats we come into cannot be taken in because they have been feral for too long or are just too scared and don’t settle in a house with people around them all the time.”

The Trust is unwilling to give up these cats, but is also unable to keep them permanently with the voluntary foster families as more kittens and cats come in almost every day. The trust hopes to accept some of them as “barn cats”.

Daveena says the concept has been successful with other animal rescue organizations in New Zealand and overseas, and she hopes it will work in Taranaki as well.

“Cats are excellent pest fighters. They love to catch mice and rats, and rodents are a problem for many farmers, as well as in stables and barns that store grain, for example.”

She says that a charity in the South Island suggested the program to the TAPT team and she hopes they can repeat the success here.

“They have massive success rates down there, especially in the horse industry.”

In exchange for the pest control provided by the cats, Daveena says that farmers or other landowners interested in participating in the program must provide water and refill a feeding station with cat biscuits three times a week. Since the cats come mainly from colonies where they have lived with other cats, the Trust wants to farm them at least in pairs.

“We want them to go in pairs, but of course people can have more. There must be at least two of them to have company.”

All rehabilitated cats were neutered, which disrupted the cycle of unwanted kittens.

Once they are settled in their new home, the cats only need to be monitored remotely, says Daveena.

“If something seems wrong or out of place, just contact us.”

Two cats the Trust currently has ready to be accepted into the stable cat program are Milo and Otis. The two cats were caught on site and too wild to be housed in a family home. Daveena says they were caught in the same location with two kittens.

“The kittens that we can rehabilitate will hopefully go to family homes through our normal adoption program.”

Milo, Otis, and their colleagues will be low-maintenance but efficient pest control tools, she says.

“All you need is water, some food, and you will catch your own dessert.”

Anyone interested in learning more, supporting the trust in any way, or applying for two or more stable / stable cats can contact the trust on Facebook – Taranaki Animal Protection Trust – or call Daveena on 021 143 5861.