Cats and release: USAG-HI pilot program takes new approach to a longtime problem

| November 16, 2017 | 4 Comments

FORT SHAFTER — Paul Smith, USAG-HI biologist, and Dianne Stewart, lead coordinator for FFF, place an authorized “feeding shelter” for stray and feral cats at Fort Shafter. Under a pilot program authorized by USAG-HI, FFF will begin a trap, neuter, release and manage program for stray and feral cats at Fort Shafter. They will feed the cats at designated areas using these feeding stations.

USAG-HI pilot program takes new approach to a longtime problem

Story and photos by
Karen Iwamoto
Staff Writer

FORT SHAFTER — U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii has authorized a pilot program that allows a sanctioned group of volunteers to trap, neuter, return and manage (TNRM) stray and feral cats, here.

The volunteers, who are part of a group called Fifi’s Feline Friends (FFF), will also feed the cats at designated times in designated areas. They will wear badges identifying themselves as members of FFF while doing so.

FFF is the only TNRM group authorized by the garrison, and the pilot program is currently limited to a few test locations on Fort Shafter.

FORT SHAFTER — A designated covered feeding station for stray and feral cats at Fort Shafter. Under a pilot program authorized by USAG-HI, a group of sanctioned volunteers will begin a trap, neuter, release and monitor program for stray and feral cats at Fort Shafter. They will also feed the cats at designated areas using these feeding stations.

The group has also built and placed “feeding shelters” at the locations. The purpose of these covered feeding stations is to limit the number of feeding areas and make it easier to keep those areas clean. Signs will be placed on the structures to identify them as garrison-authorized feeding stations.

Tackling an issue
USAG-HI has received complaints about stray and feral cats at Fort Shafter over the years, said Paul Smith, the USAG-HI natural resource biologist who serves as the liaison between the garrison and FFF. The complaints cited disturbances from cats that live near offices and housing, odor from cat feces and urine, and disagreements about how to address the situation, among other things.

“If this pilot program works, we expect to see a significant reduction in the number of complaints,” Smith said. “What we’re trying to do is get the cats away from the more populated areas, so we tried to find less-trafficked open spaces for the feeding areas.”
The overall goal is to control the feral and stray cat population while improving the quality of life for the cats, which in turn should improve the relationship between the cats and the people living and working at Fort Shafter.

Dianne Stewart, lead coordinator for FFF, said the TNRM model makes sense.

“This is a logical, not emotional, response,” Stewart said. “If you could get rid of every single cat (on Fort Shafter), the back fill would be overnight. Other cat colonies would come and take over. With what we’re doing, the cats that are here will be healthy, flea-free and fixed. If other cat colonies were to take over, we would be back at square one with our efforts.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of cats over time, not increase the cat population,” she added. “We are providing a service to the community. It can cost our volunteers anywhere from $20-$40 a week to supply cat food, $6 per dose of flea medication. We also use diatomaceous earth in affected areas. That also helps. We pay to have cats spayed and neutered. And we’re not opposed to putting a cat down if a cat is sick or poses a health hazard.”

She added that the group also finds homes for kittens and cats that can be socialized, and some volunteers serve as “foster parents” for socialized cats awaiting placement in permanent homes.

Sizeable issue
She estimates that there are about 2,700 stray and feral cats on Fort Shafter. But stray and feral cat colonies are not limited to Fort Shafter and Army installations.

In fact, the FFF pilot program is modeled on a similar program started by the University of Hawaii at Manoa to manage the cat colonies there.

A major benefit of the garrison’s pilot program, Stewart said, is that it allows TNRM proponents to operate within the lawful boundaries of the garrison.

Unauthorized feeding and releasing of cats has been occurring on Fort Shafter despite a USAG-HI policy banning it. As a result, individuals afraid of being punished would resort to covert feeding and releasing of cats. Now, those interested in the welfare of the cats and the larger community can continue their efforts by volunteering through FFF.

Under this pilot program, USAG-HI will maintain some oversight while FFF will oversee the day-to-day operations of the program. It is an all-volunteer effort and USAG-HI is not paying FFF.

If it works, Smith said it will be a win-win for the garrison.

Volunteer
To become an authorized trap, neuter, release and monitor (TNRM) volunteer at Fort Shafter, contact Fifi’s Feline Friends at SHAFTERTNRM@aol.com.

Do your part: Responsible pet ownership
The unauthorized abandonment of cats at Fort Shafter has the potential to undermine USAG-HI’s trap, neuter, return and manage pilot program.

Those who are planning to move, but cannot or do not want to take their cats with them, may contact Fifi’s Feline Friends so that its volunteers can help find new homes for the cats.

Potential cat owners may opt instead to become volunteer foster cat “parents” through FFF.

Pet owners may also surrender their pet to the Hawaiian Humane Society, which accepts admissions all day, every day, including holidays. It costs pet owners $25 to drop off a pet. There are no fees for bringing in stray animals.
Pet owners should also know that the unauthorized abandoning of pets is illegal in Hawaii and on USAG-HI installations.

The Hawaiian Humane Society is located at 2700 Waialae Ave. Call 356-2200 or visit hawaiian
humane.org.

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Category: Community

Comments (4)

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  1. Kim Murphy says:

    Excellent!

  2. Sarin Koerner says:

    Thank to the garrison commander, COL Dawson and his team for allowing FFF to be a part of kind, realistic and feasible solution of community cat population controls on Fort Shafter. Thank you!!!

  3. Johanna van de Woestijne, Stanford Med '87 says:

    Feral cats kill the wildlife and spread the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii to people and other warm blooded animals, debilitating and sometimes killing them. Neutering does not prevent cats spreading diseases and parasites to other animals. They should be humanely euthanized or enclosed in a sanctuary, not left roaming

  4. Bryan Kortis says:

    Thank you, Fort Shafter and FFF, for having the vision and courage to try a new, progressive and humane way for managing cat populations. Let us know if we can help: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org

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