Kim Caswell–president of the Skyway Cats Inc., a nonprofit operated by a cadre of volunteers who feed and care for a feral cat colony in a distinctive location, the South Skyway Fishing Pier, in Tampa Bay—notes that, as a longtime cat lover, the first time she saw a colony, she recognized a problem that needed her help. And she jumped in. Caswell responds to my observation that folks who look after feral cat colonies describe an almost magnetic pull, drawing them back to the colony, day after day—sounding like it was an irresistible attraction, maybe even somewhat addictive. Supporting that contention, we note—but don’t have time to delve into—that Caswell and her group of Skyway Cats colleagues also individually tend to colonies in St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Tampa, Tarpon Springs, Venice, and Riverview. In a part of the conversation that might be dubbed “TNR 101,” Caswell describes Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the method that seeks to manage populations of feral (or community) cats. She explains that the cats are humanely trapped at a colony, brought to a veterinarian or vet clinic for the animal to be spayed or neutered—typically, vaccinated, too (that’s TNVR)—then returned to the colony. Caswell confirms that a fundamental, guiding principle of feral cat colonies is that when properly managed—including practicing TNR/TNVR—the colonies eventually go extinct. But that process can be derailed when someone drops off one or more cats at the colony. For example, the Tampa Bay Times recently published a wonderful by Dirk Shadd about the Skyway Cats Inc., which Caswell says generated an avalanche of donations—more monies in a few days than they had received in the past two years. However, another by-product of The Times piece: someone dropped off 10 cats at the Skyway Cats colony, a mom and nine kittens, what Caswell characterized as a “two thousand dollar problem.” She also addresses how the organization (which faces sizable expenses: food, spay/neuter procedures, other veterinary costs, and so on) is funded–mostly donations, purchases through Chewy (https://skywaycats.com/how-to-help), and a lot of self-funding. (https://skywaycats.com/, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100072016402401, https://www.instagram.com/skywaycatssouth/)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Sonny Flynn, founder and CEO of the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, in Madeira Beach, FL which—in the wee hours of July 13—experienced a devastating fire, that claimed the lives of about 85 animals. Flynn explained that Aug. 3 was slated as the date of “Rescuing Our Rescues,” a benefit to be held at the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island. The event sought to raise funds to help look after the surviving animals, and enable the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center to rebuild and recover. She outlined what would be offered at the benefit, including appetizers and other food, drinks, and the opportunity to “Kiss The Gator.” They’ll clearly need—and accept—donations after “Rescuing Our Rescues” comes and goes. (https://alligatorwildlife.com/, https://www.facebook.com/AlligatorWildlifeDiscoveryCenter)
COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Pepitone’s “Dog Therapy” (https://www.eddiepepitone.com/)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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