Don't be alarmed if your friendly neighborhood stray cat has a shaved belly and a notch in his ear the next time he comes to your back door looking for a nap or a snack.
The Oklahoma City Council is set to consider an ordinance change Tuesday that would help the city animal shelter launch its community cats program, which would allow some stray and loosely owned cats to be immunized, sterilized and returned to their neighborhoods.
The change, set for a hearing next week and a potential vote May 29, would allow the shelter to reduce the required hold time for cats in the program. The shelter holds all incoming unclaimed cats for at least three days, but animals in the community cats program would be released more quickly.
“We can get them in and out and send them back home where they've been living and probably thriving,” said Catherine English, manager of the city's Animal Welfare Division.
Humane society partnership
The Central Oklahoma Humane Society has a similar program and will help with the shelter's
The program will only involve adult, healthy stray and loosely owned neighborhood cats brought by the public to the shelter, and whoever brings them to the shelter will decide whether they're put into the community cats program or treated as normal strays, which are evaluated, reclaimed, adopted or euthanized.
English estimates more than 1,000 cats could be part of the program in its first year.
It also could save the lives of outdoor cats that belong to city residents, English said. Because such cats sometimes stay away for days, some owners might assume they're roaming when they're actually at the shelter with a clock ticking.
“At least they'll come home now,” English said.
The cats will be exam
The shelter is paying for its costs for the program out of funds it keeps from adoption fees. The humane society is also providing manpower and funding, including putting a flier on doorknobs in neighborhoods where cats in the program came from.
Over time, the program could significantly reduce the city's stray cat population, which will result in fewer animals euthanized at the shelter, said Jon Gary, the shelter's unit operations manager.
“It's been very successful in many other cities, and so we thought it would be something we could implement here in Oklahoma City as well,” Gary said.