Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | May 12, 2008

Feral Cats

Last autumn the SCHS Pet Column addressed some misconceptions about feral cats and promoted research that has found the trap/neuter/release (TNR) approach to be the most humane, most successful, and most financially effective way of controlling feral cat populations. (Visit our website, address below, to find these past columns 75-79).


In light of these facts and the positive work occurring through the TNR program that Second Chance operates within San Miguel and Ouray counties, SCHS has been contacted by concerned citizens in the Delta, Colorado area to help save a feral cat colony that is being threatened.


The story, by Lisa Huynh, appeared Thursday, April 17 in the Montrose Daily Press and is outlined here:

“Melissa Heinzen has been feeding a feral cat colony at Confluence Park for the past six to seven years. With the help of others, she has systematically trapped, neutered and released the animals back to the park. But this month, City of Delta officials gave Heinzen 30 days from April 4 to stop setting out food and to remove the more than one dozen animals from the area.

“What we’re doing is working. But Delta has no tolerance for them,” Heinzen said. She maintains that fixing the animals will help control the population and allow for a natural die-off — a position plenty support and oppose…

Delta Police Cmdr. Roger Christian said Heinzen must remove the animals because she has claimed ownership. As a pet owner, she must take responsibility for them, he said. If she is unable to do so, the city said it will help her transport them to an animal shelter for adoption. “The last thing I want to do is euthanize these animals,” Christian said.

The problem is feral cats are nearly impossible to adopt or move, Heinzen said. The only way to move them is to keep them confined for a few weeks in their new location. Otherwise, they’ll return to their old homes. The cats are well fed and are not disturbing anyone, so Heinzen said she doesn’t understand why they should be moved.”


Following the printing of this story, there were several strong letters written in support of Heinzen’s feral cats, one submitted by Col. Mary E. Jones, Ret. USAF stated “ (Heinzen) maintains the cat colony with food, shelter and vet care at her own expense. This is not costing the tax payer a penny, a public service that in other Colorado counties are paying respected organizations to provide.”


Another misconception addressed in Jones’ letter was relative to the adoptability of feral cats: “In an interview with Rodger Christenson, (Delta) Chief of Police, he stated that he would find loving homes for the feral cats. You cannot find homes for feral cats-they are not pets and never will be. They are animals that provide a service to Delta on keeping the rodent population down.” In other words, feral cats taken to shelters simply end up being euthanized after a standard hold period.


Concerned Delta and Montrose citizens are requesting that people help out by contacting the Delta city officials to communicate your concerns. You can find information to write or call city officials to allow the managed feral cat colony or at least more time for relocation of the remaining cats:


Further information about TNR can be found at or


In closing, SCHS encourages all readers to consider humane treatment and respect of all our fellow furry beings. The SCHS pet of the week, Clyde, realizes he owes his life to this philosophy. Clyde, an 8 month old lovebug is grateful that he is very adoptable and as far from feral as they come because he adores people. This attention-seeking character is guaranteed to perk up your home and your world.


Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet or learn about SCHS Spay/Neuter Vouchers, Volunteer & Foster Care and other Programs. Visit to see our adoptable pets. Responses to Pet Columns can be sent to:



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