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Feral Cats In The Newtown Area



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With rising costs, caring for pets is getting expensive, which may have caused Newtown to see a rise of feral cats in the area.

A concerned citizen reached out to The Newtown Bee, saying she had four feral cats coming to her door, one of which was a Siamese cat, another a Tuxedo cat. Siamese and Tuxedo cats are domesticated cat breeds that are not seen out in the wild, meaning the cat was abandoned by its owner.

Once cats are in the wild, they become semi-feral, meaning some natural instincts return to them. What hurts these cats the most is that they become weary of humans, especially if they were abandoned or abused. Semi-feral and feral cats are tougher because they need to protect themselves against predators such as coyotes and bears.

Carolee Mason, Newtown’s Municipal Animal Control Officer, explained that there has been a surge in feral cats after the pandemic, which was echoed by a lot of other animal rescuers.

Caroline Abate, director of Whiskers Pet Rescue in Southbury, said, “This pandemic has had tentacles in the animal world.”

Even after facilitating over 700 cat and kitten adoptions last year alone, Whiskers cannot keep up with the volume of strays and ferals coming to their door. Whiskers works strictly with friendly cats, but they do try and assist trappers as much as they can.

Whiskers is a no-kill shelter doing its best to help as many cats as possible, but they, too, have been hit hard with rising costs of vet care. A lot of rescues, like Feral Cats of East Windsor, rely purely on donations and generous volunteers to keep their doors open to provide care to these animals. Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats is another organization doing its best to help cats in the state. They are not a shelter and used a trap-neuter-return model when they first started, but now have taken a step back and mostly provide monetary support to trappers, foster homes, and local rescues.

This issue continues to spread outward. Vet clinics are overwhelmed after reopening their doors to patients following the pandemic, and low-cost spay and neuter options are becoming few and far between. The Newtown Spay and Neuter Alliance has temporarily disbanded due to a shortage of funds.

Kerry Bartoletti, a director of Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats, explained that she worked hard to trap, neuter, and return as many feral cats in Cheshire as she could, “We do as much as we can. I feel like we made a huge difference in the population.” But her work only goes so far.

Russel Bergeron, director of Feral Cats of East Windsor, explained how he helped 75 kittens and 15 mothers from one trapping site. Bergeron started twelve years ago just by feeding some cats that were coming into his yard. Those cats then had a litter of kittens, and his rescue grew from there. Bergeron told the story of how one of his first traps was adopted in 2014 and he is still in that home today.

Bergeron explained that helping feral cats can be easy for the individual, just “take care of your own backyard. If there’s hungry children in the world, look in your town first.”

Mason agreed with this, saying, “Feed ‘em … They need food and should have shelter.”

The Newtown Animal Shelter can help residents out with food, but Mason is hoping a fundraiser for Newtown Spay & Neuter Association will come soon to help out with the big costs.

Whiskers, Newtown Animal Shelter, and Feral Cats of East Windsor are all no-kill shelters but rely heavily on donations.

“We receive no state or federal funding,” Abate explained.

These rescues need help, but the help is hard to come by.

“It’s hard to keep asking for help,” Bergeron said.

Newtown Animal Shelter and Whiskers have volunteer opportunities for those who are interested in helping these animals out. The Animal Shelter also offers a safe haven for those who can no longer care for their pets. The surrender fee is $100. The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary also offers assistance for senior citizens through their Senior Paws program.

“If you can’t help [the cats], don’t hurt them,” Bergeron said.


Reporter Sam Cross can be reached at sam@thebee.com.

This kitten arrived at Whiskers Pet Rescue the morning this picture was taken. Found on the street, this kitty will be seen and treated by a vet to ensure proper vaccination and be spayed/neutered before adoption. For more information on this cat, please reach out to Whiskers Pet Rescue, 203-586-1666. —Bee Photos, Cross
Eric at Whiskers Pet Rescue is looking for his forever home.
Joey, a kitten available for adoption, enjoys a nap at Newtown Animal Shelter. For more information about this kitty, call 203-426-6900.
Spirit, a beautiful black cat at Newtown Animal Shelter, was recently adopted.
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