OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – All across Central Florida, there is a growing problem when it comes to feral cats in the community.
"It's very easy for the cat population to get out of control very quickly," Osceola County Animal Services Director Kim Staton said.
Since April 2018, a grant from the Best Friends Animal Society has enabled Osceola County Animal Services to hire two people to go out into the community to humanely curb the feral cat population.
The grant, which spans three years and includes up to $500,000, allows for a van and supplies to be used by two people to go and collect trapped feral cats to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and released back into the community.
"Putting these neutered animals back into the population helps stabilize the population and prevents growth of that population," Staton said. "What we used to do with trap and remove and euthanize, it doesn't work."
Since the community cat program began, the total surgery count is up to 2,021 cats.
The shelter is already seeing a noticeable drop in cats coming in, down 16 percent between 2017 and 2018.
"We got to the point a couple of times where there were no cats for adoption," Staton said.
But the true test is still to come now that kitten season is on its way. The span between early spring through late fall is the most popular time of the year in which kittens are born.
"We're all a little bit anxious about what this summer is going to bring," Staton said. "We know it's still going to be a difficult summer this year, but the way this should work is each summer should get a little bit easier, a little bit shorter with kitten season."
The grant allows this program to run in the county for two more years.
Osceola County residents who have feral cats in their neighborhood are asked to contact the Osceola County Community Cat Program by calling 407-608-2764 or emailing OsceolaCats@bestfriends.org.