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Wednesday, February 23, 2000

$10 million to reduce
feral cat population

By Pat Gee


The Animal CARE Foundation has received a $10-million grant from an anonymous donor to fund a program to reduce the population of feral cats.

The money, which the foundation hopes to double eventually with matching grants, would be used to trap and neuter cats as an alternative to banning the public from feeding the stray animals or destroying them.

Sabina M. Wenner, founder and president of the Animal CARE Foundation, announced the grant from an out-of-state donor at Kakaako Beach Park yesterday because the site has been used an example by state Department of Health officials as one of the worst problem areas to justify its proposed feeding ban and the current practice of trapping and killing them.

But, she pointed out, "I don't see any cats," nor do they come out in the evening in great numbers. During a four-hour meeting one night, "I saw six cats," Wenner said.

If people aren't allowed to feed them, they would still survive on the 60 or so garbage cans -- "delicatessens" -- spread throughout the park, full of leftover plate lunches, she said.

Wenner said it hasn't been decided yet how much money would be allocated to serving other animal programs CARE has, but the primary focus would be to "prevent cat deaths" by trapping them, neutering them, and returning them to an appropriate environment.

Some of the funds would be used to set up two facilities to do the neutering and spaying of all kinds of animals, or serve as sanctuaries for animals that could not survive without special care.

The money also would be used to re-educate people about abandoning an unwanted animal. The facilities would have visitor orientation centers for children and groups to "retrain thought patterns" about abandonment, she said.

The Humane Society is unable to handle all the neutering and sheltering needs of Hawaii's animals. If an animal is found and does not have any identification, they are quickly euthanized because it cannot care for all the animals that are brought to them, Wenner said.

A female cat is capable of bearing 40 kittens a year, but the next year the cat and her offspring will bear 200, Wenner said.

The trap-and-neuter program would be a long-term solution to overpopulation in which results could be seen in three to 10 years.

Finding matching donors will be easier now that the initial $10 million has been received, Wenner said.

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