Final Hope Rushes to Help a Cat Colony Caregiver in West Berlin, NJ
Last Sunday, during a hot 4th of July weekend, we left early in the morning with 3 cars packed full with traps, blankets, and other supplies and drove for two hours to West Berlin, NJ to help with a major Trap-Neuter-Return project. Tamara, an animal lover and TNR advocate has been posting pleas on Facebook urging rescue groups to help her with the local cat colonies. The area is far from where Final Hope usually operates but after learning again and again that Tamara’s pleas were left unanswered, we decided to step in.
When we arrived, we found many cats that needed help, but also a devoted animal lover who faces the same challenges, frustrations and struggles that many caregivers all across NJ (and the country) face.
Cat colonies in West Berlin, NJ
Just as many of us, Tamara began her volunteer work after she came across a stray cat and a litter of kittens in 2011. That’s when she began caring for her first colony in West Berlin. A friendly policeman showed her other areas where more stray cats were hiding. Today, Tamara cares for 11 cat colonies in West Berlin and neighboring towns. “It takes me 2 hours and 30 minutes every day to feed all of the cats that I care for“.
From the beginning, Tamara’s main goal was to TNR as many cats as possible. Trap-Neuter-Return is the only effective way of controlling cat population growth. More and more townships adopt TNR as an approved method, replacing Trap and Kill that results in thousands of cats euthanized, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent, and no long lasting result on the streets.
Not all of the townships are embracing the change. Tamara who was trapping and neutering cats for the last 3 years has been under more and more pressure from the local Animal Control for feeding the cats. “I finally decided to face the administration head on. I began talks with the mayor to convince her to support TNR practices. I provided various materials to prove to them that TNR is the way to go. I volunteered to take the responsibility, alone, so that my colonies, many of which are now fixed, are not euthanized. The cats are healthy and they do not reproduce. Why kill them?”
Final Hope answers Tamara’s plea
For us, the animal lovers, TNR serves much bigger purpose: it helps prevent the suffering of cats and kittens that overpopulation causes. When Deana, the co-founder of Final Hope, read Tamara’s post about explosion of kittens and the number of those that already died either due to wildlife of disease, she responded to Tamara’s plea. As Deana’s rescue partner, I got quickly involved and we began gathering the resources.
We are a new rescue and we still have very few resources of our own, but thanks to a local TNR group Union City Feral Cat Committee, we had over 2o traps. Transport was another issue. How can we deliver 20 traps using our cars? Deana took many in her SUV, I stacked 4 in my small Chevy. May who volunteered to help us, loaded the rest.
We set up 20 traps and waited. But the cats were smarter then we thought. It was hot and they were suspicious of our presence so they kept away. Fortunately, by late afternoon, we had 9 adults trapped and Tamara rescued 3 kittens. Tamara will hold onto the traps for the week to spay/neuter as many cats as possible.
It was group effort and we are glad that most of the cats in Tamara’s colonies will be spayed or neutered! Some of her colonies are down to 2 or 3 cats that are still left to be fixed. It is still unknown whether the township will agree to the TNR practices. We will keep you posted on the progress.
From left: May, Deana, Jolanta, Tamara
You can help our rescue by
1. Donating food and litter, but also beds, litter boxes, cat trees (they love them!). Here is our Amazon Wish List . Or you can mail directly to 6 Congress street, Jersey City, NJ.
2. Becoming a monthly member for as little as $5 to help pay for Trap-Neuter-Return projects and medical expenses
3. Becoming a volunteer: cleaning, feeding, and playing with our cats
About the Author: Jolanta Reynolds is a co-founder of Final Hope Animal Rescue