The Galveston Island Community Cats Program is operated through the Galveston Island Humane Society and has provided sterilization for healthy stray or feral cats for years. Since the passage of city ordinance Article VII Feral Cats, which established guidelines for maintaining feral cats on Galveston Island, the humane society has stepped up its services by procuring grants from both the Manion Charitable Foundation and PetSmart Charities for trap-neuter-return.

Vanessa Coggins, the program coordinator, has recruited a small group of volunteers who have been providing education to the community about the cat program. They also assist with mass trappings of feral cat colonies on Galveston Island and the return of sterilized cats, who also receive a rabies vaccination and a notched left ear. The three veterinary clinics in Galveston, the Animal Clinic, Campeche Cove Animal Hospital and Galveston Veterinary Clinic provide services for our program through these grants. Individuals who wish to assist by taking feral cats directly to the clinics must call first to make an appointment with one of these clinics.

Galveston Island residents feeding five or more feral cats need to register with the program as sponsors to comply with the feral cat ordinance. Sponsors who complete the sponsor agreement and participate in our feral cat care education program may feed cats on their property as long as they are healthy, sterilized and are not creating a nuisance. Since September 2015, more than 550 stray and feral cats have been trapped for sterilization and release by both the cat’s program and individuals in the community.

Statistics show that the number of stray/feral cats on Galveston Island has been increasing by almost 25 percent annually. Most of this increase is because of people abandoning or allowing free-roaming of unsterilized cats who breed year round. This responsible program will allow these cats to live out their lives and is intended to ensure that the feral colonies will decline through sterilization. Please note: The humane society also assists with low-cost spay/neuter for domestic cats, while the grants provide for the stray/feral cats.

The cat’s program is providing trap-neuter-return services to 90 identified feral cat colonies in the 77550, 77551 and 77554 ZIP codes. If you are feeding feral cat colonies or have feral cats in your neighborhood that have not been sterilized, please contact the humane society. Information is also available for the public on low-cost methods of deterring feral cats from your property.

If you are interested in helping with our programs, we can put your talents to work as neighborhood canvassers and educators, cat trappers, and/or transporters. For more information, or if you are interested in any of these positions, or need assistance with feral cats, please contact Vanessa Coggins at the Galveston Island Humane Society, 409-740-1919, Ext. 20.

Marte Hersey is on the board of directors of the Galveston Island Humane Society.

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