Stray cat population declines thanks to TNVR program

- Free-roaming cats live in neighborhoods all over the Bay Area, just trying to survive - and sometimes annoying their neighbors.

But a strategy to reduce their numbers appears to be working.

Meow Now is an all-volunteer group targeting free-roaming cats in Pinellas County, to keep them fed, healthy, and not reproducing.

It's called TNVR: Trap, neuter, vaccinate, return.

We followed Kim Kryza with Meow Now as she made the rounds to feed colonies of homeless cats. Several were patiently waiting for her to show up.

"I do it every day. Rain, shine, sleet, or snow, just like the Postal Service," Kryza said.

This was just one of 30 colonies of cats she feeds.

"I buy two 20-pound bags of cat food a day," she told us. "It averages out to about $42 a day… I stay on the overtime list at work.”

But Kryza doesn't just feed stray cats. She also helps Meow Now trap them for the TNVR program.

"By TNVR'ing you're containing the colonies. By feeding them you're keeping them from going through your trash," Kryza explained.

Executive director Chad Thompson helps caregivers like Kim do the trapping. They get the males neutered and the females spayed, keeping thousands of kittens from being born.

"When you consider we've done almost 3,000 cats, if you start doing the math of what could have been from that? Yeah. We're making a big difference," Thompson said.

The head of Pinellas County Animal Services thinks so too. Doug Brightwell says they've seen a decline in the number of cats and kittens coming in for the past three years.

"We are hoping that it is a trend. But we've got another couple of years to safely say this is a long-term trend. But we are grateful for it," Brightwell said, adding that nuisance calls are also down. "The nuisance calls drop because they're not roaming. They're not mating, and they have dependable food now."

Meow now it’s on track to make a huge difference for Pinellas County cats.  But they need more funding and more volunteers.

"It fills my heart, overflowing, every day. I couldn't imagine doing anything else," Kryza said of how she feels about working with Meow Now.

Keep in mind that if you're feeding cats that have been sterilized or in the process of getting TNVR’d that's perfectly legal in Pinellas County. If you're only feeding the cats, they're still having kittens, adding to the over-population problem, that's a violation of the county ordinance.

The overall goal is fewer stray cats and fewer cats getting euthanized.

For more information, visit http://meownowfl.org/ or call 727-203-5255.

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