Feral Cats Are Family Too

by Denise Stevens


Fifteen years ago I received a call about a woman feeding feral cats on an empty lot next to the Automobile Museum. The caller told me that an elderly woman came without fail twice daily to feed “her” kitties. She lived in a motel on 2nd street, and rain or snow, would drag a little cart the three blocks to the colony, food and treats in tow.

Thinking that I would be welcomed with open arms, I arrived to save the day, offering my services to trap, neuter and return the kitties. Much to my surprise, I was met with 4’8” of 90 year old fury telling me in no uncertain terms that I was not going to touch her cats. After many trips and much cajoling, Mary and I sealed a truce and she allowed us to take her kitties to be altered and vaccinated.

Over the course of the next 5 years, Mary and I developed a wonderful friendship. A retired school teacher and widow, Mary got up in the morning to take care of her kitties. She was a devoutly religious woman with a heart of gold and she loved her feral cats. During the last year of her life, she broke her hip but her only concern was for her kitties.

You might wonder why this Animal Files column is about Mary. My answer is that Mary represents so many wonderful people who take care of community cats, providing care to these cats because they are truly compassionate. For some, taking care of community cats is a way to give back, for others; it is simply the desire to do something for animals in a neighborhood.

We share this story now because of an important proposed Ordinance within the City of Sparks. Bill No. 2695, an Ordinance amending Chapter 20.29 of the Sparks Municipal Code, is aimed at ending Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in Washoe County and Sparks, therefore jeopardizing our position as one of the nation’s only no-kill communities. Nevada Humane Society opposes this proposed Ordinance.

Community cats, though unsocialized to humans, are still family for over 300 people in Sparks who are currently involved in TNR. Their care and effort has led to an overall 37% decrease in cat population in Washoe County over the last 8 years. If this Ordinance passes, the community will lose millions in lifesaving grant funding and its status as one of the safest places to be a homeless pet nationwide.

My beautiful 90 year old friend Mary and her feral cat colony taught me so much about life, love and compassion. Now, I am asking you to do the same. I miss Mary to this day but together we can all honor her memory and the community’s commitment to TNR by asking that the Sparks City Council reject this proposed Ordinance. For details on how to help, visit www.nevadahumanesociety.org or send an email to your Sparks City Council Member stating that you support TNR and therefore are asking this proposed Ordinance to be rejected.

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