Friends of Jefferson Animals (FOJA) is set to host its fall Community Cats meeting, detailing its plan to trap, neuter/spay and return the cats to their colonies, all in an effort to eventually reduce the feral cat colonies in the city.

“This is an informative meeting about FOJA’s Community Cats program,” FOJA President Kimberly Parsons said on Tuesday. “It takes quite a number of people to make this work.”

With fall weather creeping in, Parsons said now is the perfect time to implement FOJA’s plan to trap, neuter/spay and return the feral cats to their colonies.

“We don’t want to trap cats in the hot weather so we had to wait until fall when it’s not so hot here,” Parsons said. “The plan is for us to go in at dusk, set the traps and wait for the feral cats to enter the traps. Once they are trapped, we immediately pick them up and take them in because we don’t want them to sit in the trap and get stressed.”

The feral cats are trapped the night before their surgery at the Animal Protection League and once the spay or neuter is complete, the cat must be kept in a volunteer’s home for observation for one day before being returned to the same area it was picked up.

“We had our first meeting about the Community Cats in the spring and we had people signing up to trap and take them in, then keep them after the surgery for a day,” Parsons said. “We’ve also collected donations to cover the costs of the rabies vaccination and the spay or neuter. Each cat must have a rabies shot before they can be spayed or neutered.”

With volunteers lined up and enough donations to get started, FOJA is set to start tackling the feral cat colonies in the city.

“We have about two or three colonies downtown and maybe two or three other colonies around the city but a colony could just be a family of about six cats. We don’t have any colonies that are more than 12-15 cats. There are people or shop owners that have agreed to continue feeding the colonies in their area,” Parsons said.

Parsons said, unlike what many people believe, cats don’t like to add additional cats to their established colonies.

“Cats aren’t like other animals,” she said. “People think, ‘if I feed these cats, more and more cats will come,’ but that’s not true. Feral cats have their established colonies and they don’t add to them so by trapping them, then spaying or neutering and returning them to their colony, they will eventually die out.”

In the mean time, Parsons said the feral cat colonies are providing a benefit to the city.

“You won’t find many vermin, snakes or rodents downtown,” she said. “That’s one benefit to the colonies. They also attract visitors. Some of them will never trust humans but some of them are friendly.”

Parsons said some builders in town are helping to construct “catteries,” chicken coup like structures on stilts that will provide shelter for the feral cats during the winter months.

Those interested in attending the Community Cats meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at First Baptist Church in Jefferson.

Those wishing to donate to help with the costs of spaying or neutering the feral cats may donate via FOJA’s website at https://www.friendsofjeffersonanimals.org/ or via Paypal at friendsofjeffersonanimals@gmail.com. Donations can also be mailed to 304 N. Walnut, Jefferson, Texas, 75657.

Information can also be found on FOJA’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfJeffersonAnimals/

FOJA also currently has 10 animals up for adoption that are currently living with volunteer fosters.

FOJA is a non-profit organization that does not receive funding from the City of Jefferson or Marion County.