Thursday, June 24, 2010

Humanitarian group launches mobile clinic for barn cats

Mary Perkins, founder of Barn Cat Outreach

Dr. Kim Wilson, Veterinarian, performs surgery.

Springwater, NY- Cats, glorious cats as immortalized in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical are not so wonderful when they become a serious societal problem.

“Just being in the clinic and seeing the amount of cats abandoned that vets work with all the time,” said Mary Perkins, Licensed Veterinary Technician, prompted her passion for animals to go into action.

Perkins established Barn Cat Outreach, a non-profit humane mobile clinic to prevent the growth of the barn cat population in Livingston county and surrounding areas.

A resident of Springwater, Perkins first discussed her vision for the program with Dr. Kim Wilson, Veterinarian, Animal Care Facility, Livonia. Wilson provided the research on the proper protocols involved in spaying/neutering barn/feral cats, anesthetizing and vaccinations.  Perkins observed a clinic in Buffalo to see how one was operated in order to TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release) humanely.

By 2009 Barn Cat Outreach was no longer a dream. Almost immediately Perkins was fortunate that local farmer, Don Walker, Springwater, invited the Outreach clinic to provide services for his barn cat population right at his location. Another farm in Caneseraga followed right along also wanting to do the responsible thing.

In April of this year the volunteer group held their first successful clinic in Canandaigua teaming up with Colony Caregivers. They trapped and brought 22 feral cats for treatment to the Outreach, who in turn provided the services at a reduced cost.

“It needed to be done, and we did it to help prevent the population getting too large and diseases spreading. We didn’t know what to expect, but we got a lot of community support,” stated Perkins, her voice rising enthusiastically.

One major thing was lacking, though. On the wish list for the Outreach since its inception was a camper or trailer to use as the mobile clinic. Perkins explained that all the supplies and work could be done in an organized place. The clinic could be ready to roll to a location where a colony of cats resided.  The request became a reality at a benefit May yard sale when a 26- foot camper was donated.

The actual process involves coming to a cat colony location and using humane traps, raccoon-sized, to catch as many cats as there are traps. The next day the volunteer team gathers the traps containing the cats. In the mobile clinic the cats complete the TNVR process. They have their left ear tipped for identification and are released back into their original environment.

A female has a lifespan of about three years due to illness and malnutrition. Each has approximately two litters of kittens each per year on an average of four at a time. Do the math and it comes out to four hundred twenty thousand cats in 7 years.

“It’s an on-going spiral,” says Perkins.

“Cats are so prolific and can fend for themselves quite well. In towns with dumpsters and garbage cans along with soft-hearted people to feed them, they live adequately.”

This makes for a double-edged sword according to Perkins. There is the goodness in feeding stray cats. If you don’t, though, the cats will move on to somewhere else to get their food.

Perkins mentioned that the mobile clinics are not for pet cats that could otherwise be taken to a vet’s office where family rates are available and other options for those with financial hardships.

In June a Barn Cat Outreach clinic was held in Cohocton and 28 cats completed the TNVR process. Upcoming in August will be a publicized mobile clinic, as well as a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Look for more information in the weeks ahead.

Perkins does the organizing for mobile clinics and all the public relations.  She established a website at to make people aware of the organization.

The Barn Cat Outreach is always in need of common items that are in continual use in their clinics, volunteers for upcoming fundraisers and clinics, as well as monetary donations. Contact Perkins through the website or by mail at Barn Cat Outreach, P.O. Box 11, Springwater, New York 14560.