ONTARIO — A nonprofit group committed to keeping the local feral cat population under control has “been hit extremely hard this year,” according to an email from Amy Kee, volunteer with the Ontario Feral Cat Project.
Ontario Police Department is currently investigating the possibility of “a colony of cats” in an Ontario neighborhood being “poisoned in traps,” according to Kee.
Ontario Police Chief Cal Kunz confirmed in an email that an investigation is ongoing, and that if a person is ever connected to the poisoning they could face several animal cruelty charges, such as animal abuse in the first degree.
The Ontario Feral Cat Project volunteers were alerted about the possible poisonings on Sept. 2, and have asked police to press charges on anyone involved.
According to Kunz, his officers have “heard that there have been up to 4 cats found deceased (unknown cause at this point).”
Volunteers with the group headed out on Sept. 3, according to Kee, to trap cats and remove them from the area.
“So far we have caught 4 female adults and 16 kittens,” wrote Kee.
“It is unknown just how many cats fell victim to this heinous crime,” she said.
‘Hopeful’ some are adoptable
In addition to the 20 new arrivals at the Constance McCullough House, where the Ontario Feral Cat Project operates a shelter, there have been more cats coming in than expected this year.
Both Ontario and Nyssa’s feral cat projects are ran solely by volunteers. Funding to continue the trap-neuter-and-release methods used by both groups comes from fundraisers and donations.
In Ontario, where the Ontario Feral Cat Project now has a facility to house cats that have been abandoned or orphaned. Those cats stay at the Ontario shelter until they can be adopted or placed in settings, such as safe shops or barns as working cats.
“We are hopeful some of these cats and kittens will be adoptable, several just appear to be scared,” wrote Kee of the cats removed from the neighborhood where the poisonings occurred.
The new arrivals will need to “be fed, spayed/neutered, vaccinated and tested” she said.
For Ontario’s program, donations can be mailed or dropped off at Four Rivers Veterinary Clinic, 2280 S.W. Fourth Ave. in Ontario, or taken to the group’s facility at 84 N.W. Second St. A list of suggested items is available on .
In Nyssa, volunteers monitor homeless cat colonies for sick, injured or new cats, “so that a healthy zero-population growth colony can be maintained,” according to an update on the program.
For Nyssa’s program, donations of cat food, unscented litter, towels and newspapers can be dropped off at the Nyssa Food Pantry from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.
For information about Nyssa Feral Cat Project, contact Lola Davis, project coordinator, or April Tyner, deputy project coordinator, at (208) 724-4964.
The groups are always looking for help in monitoring local colonies.