Alongside the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic, Kathy Stiles Freeland spends her time cat trapping.
Cat trapping involves trapping all the cats in a colony, getting them spayed and neutered, adopting out the kittens and friendly cats, then returning the feral adult cats back to their territory and providing them with food and shelter. That is, Trap-Neuter-Release.
Bham Now interviewed Kathy Stiles Freeland about her work in cat trapping.
Kathy has been plowing new fields in local conservation efforts for a long time. She was the founding Director of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center and the founding Executive Director of the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She returned as Executive Director of Ruffner Mountain to lead a $5 million capital improvement campaign and oversee design and construction of the new wildlife center.
“My professional career was with Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, but I retired in June 2009. I always had a lifelong interest in animals, and in particular, cats. My mother’s cat was in the room when I was born, so I started my life around cats.”
“I realized the extent of the feral cat population in Birmingham, which is not good for the cats and not good for wildlife. Being a conservationist, I realized I can do two things at once: I can help with the feral population and continue my conservation work by preventing birds being killed, etc.”
Eventually, Kathy got to know the director of the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic in Irondale. The clinic is a non-profit that provides high quality, low cost spay/neutering to end the overpopulation of dogs and cats in Central Alabama.
Kathy asked the clinic for help with a project in Chilton County. An older couple was taking care of 39 feral cats. With the clinic’s help, Kathy spent a day and a half spaying and neutering the cats. After this project, the clinic asked Kathy if she would be willing to take on future cat trapping calls. She agreed and her work has continued. Most recently, she trapped 23 cats in Fultondale.
“At one point, I had an idea to open a cat sanctuary. But, you could fill up a sanctuary the size of Regions Field in three months because there are so many feral cats in Birmingham.”
“I honestly don’t know how many cats I’ve trapped over the years. However, we should see a drop in the number of cats turned over to rescue shelters and animal control- that’s the goal. I think it is horrible for any animal to die, just because there’s not a place for them.”
“Without cats, we would have rat and lice problems. We don’t need to kill the cats, they’ve lived with humans for over ten thousand years. We just need to help them live a better life so that they’re not having litter after litter.”
Kathy isn’t the only person cat trapping. The Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic bought several traps specifically for these larger cat trapping projects. In 2017 alone, over 4,000 animals have been spayed/neutered at the clinic, making a big difference in the quality of life for these animals. Also, the clinic’s work reduces costs for animal control and the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
The clinic is always in need of volunteers. Cat trapping involves a lot of lifting and toting, so volunteers make the process go a lot smoother. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic at 205-956-0012.
For more information about Trap-Neuter-Return, check out the national group Alley Cat Allies’s website.