Feral Cat Fiasco

My story, Feral Cat Fiasco: Lovable Until They’re Not, is featured in the January 2018 edition of Idaho Magazine.  There were several edits to the story so as not to offend the sensibilities of the magazine’s readers.  However, I have no such apprehensions, so you can read a bit that was cut from the story below.

Also, to see more information about my troubles with feral cats, check out this post on Feral Cat Solutions.

The Cut Bit:

Well, if they want to maintain a feral cat colony, let them do it at their house, I thought.  And that’s when an idea took root.

The Assessor’s Office maintains information on all the property owners in the county.  I gave them Tara Wimer’s name and hit pay dirt.  She lives at 1025 Julianne Way in Moscow, a part of the county known as Rat Flats because the area is over-run by rats from the adjacent landfill.  It was the perfect location for a feral cat colony and if one didn’t exist already, I had every intention of founding one.  Mama Cat was watermelon shaped again; she would make the perfect feral cat colony starter pack.

I immediately engaged in a reconnaissance mission.  Tara Wimer’s home was a run-down old trailer with an unusual wire contraption jutting from the front of it.  It didn’t take long to realize that the chicken wire conglomeration enabled her cats to access part of the yard, via the windows, (one would think a cat door would make more sense) and was designed so her cats couldn’t escape.  I had wire cutters at home and was more than a little temped to deposit feral cats directly into the wire enclosure so that she could come face to face with the cats she insisted on ‘saving.’  I would even politely patch the hole so her cats wouldn’t accidentally wander off in the process.

As soon as I got home I set the trap.

My plan was foiled the following day when my power steering went out.  Leaving the car with a mechanic, I bummed a ride from a friend.  That evening, just as the sun was setting I caught Mama Cat.  Excited, I called Bruce.

“I’ve got Mama Cat!  Tomorrow I need you to give me a ride; I know exactly where to release her.”

“And where’s that?” Bruce asked.

I explained my relocation plan.

“And what are you going to do if you get caught?” Bruce asked.

“I’ll smile and wave,” I announced proudly.

“What if she calls the cops?”  Bruce was attempting to be the voice of reason.

“I have it on good authority that there are absolutely no ordinances regarding feral cats on the books in Latah County,” I replied.  It was the mantra Tara Wimer trumpeted, loudly and often.

“This reeks of malicious mischief,” Bruce said.  “I won’t be an accessory.”

Deflated, I lamented, “But I’ve already caught Mama Cat; she could pop any day.  I don’t want another litter on the property.”

Purchase a copy of the magazine here:  https://www.idahomagazine.com/shop/2018-01-january-2018-basalt/

Locally, copies can be found at BookPeople of Moscow and the Latah County Library.

January 17, 2018 Edit to Add:

Had a nice chat with a couple Latah County Sheriff’s Deputies today.  One said he was a fan of IDAHO Magazine, had read and enjoyed the article.  The other lives just north of Potatch and has feral cats on his property.  He said he would talk with the County Commissioners because he’s also frustrated with the the animal shelter’s refusal to assist anyone from the county who wants to rid themselves of feral cats.  The size of the feral cat colony out at Syringa Trailer Park concerned him, not to mention the 74 cats now living in an abandoned house in Bovill.

January 19, 2018 Edit to Add:

You can now read the entire January issue of the magazine for free by clicking here:  https://www.idahomagazine.com/sponsor/january-2018-basalt/

January 31, 2018 Edit to Add:

Yesterday I called Animal House Ferals to chat about their program.  They don’t take truly feral cats, but focus on strays who’ve had some human interaction before being dumped or abandoned.  I was pleased to see that they support euthanasia, as that is often the most humane and cost effective thing that can be done for a feral cat.  I have long believed that no kill policies take money away from healthy, adoptable cats in order to prolong a pained existence of a cat that is essentially dead already.

The Animal House Ferals FAQ page states, “arranging veterinary care when available or [for] humane euthanasia as needed,” Behler says.

It took some digging to find out who Behler was.  It turns out that this quote came from an interview Jennifer Behler, the chief operating officer at the San Diego Humane Society, gave to petmd.

So, it seems there is still no assistance available for those burdened with feral cats, but if you live in Latah County and have strays frequenting your property, Animal House Ferals might be able to help.

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7 thoughts on “Feral Cat Fiasco

  1. I suppose you’ve been inundated with this, but 22 long rifle ammo costs less than $0.10 a round. And if I was the one being disposed of I would much prefer it to a coyote death. I have found if I shoot one they all disappear for months, I actually only do it once or twice a year. I try to keep the place safe and comfortable for the birds who reward me by shitting all over my car. I enjoyed your article and I’m sharing it with my cat lady friend. I’m in Owyhee County, she’s in California.

    • I’m glad you liked the story. My grandma is a birder and she wanted me to include that cats are death on songbirds, which is one of the reasons PETA has no love for feral cats. Unfortunately, there was no room to include that; the story had to be edited for length as it was.

  2. It sounds like you don’t know about animalhouseferals.com I don’t know how long they have been around, but they do feral TNR and also halp place barn cats and tame kittens.

    • I was completely unaware that such a program existed in Latah County. For all my troubles, HSoP never once mentioned the program. They simply, and repeatedly, refused to take any of the cats I trapped.

      From looking over the website you attached, it appears that the group was founded after my feral cat encounters. The first post on the blog is from September 2017 and I was contacting HSoP and the Commissioners from September 2016 until July 2017. I gave up and pursued other avenues when I learned that the Kootenai Humane Society offered a spay/neuter plus rabies shots all for $15. They accept up to 5 cats per person, each day the clinic is open, even if the cats come from another county. Shoshone County Cat Wranglers bring their ferals into the Kootenai Humane Society, too.

      This organization would have made a great follow-up story, unfortunately Tara Wimer has raised such a fuss and been so insulting toward the magazine that the owner says they’ll never run another story on feral cats.

      • I think ahf is pretty new, and likely dind’t exist when u were having ur troubles. I know from a friend thet the shelter does know about them and refers when needed.

  3. Hi Khaliela,

    Update, 2021

    Did you know I didn’t actually have a vote in HSoP policy? I didn’t get to say how the programs HSoP offered should be ran? I was just the face for the organization and not the one making any decisions? That I don’t have a say in how the county decides their budget? I didn’t actually write any Idaho animal codes or laws? I didn’t create the feral cat problem in your yard? You attacked someone pretty low on the totem pole… and quite obsessively.

    It wasn’t me raising a stink about your article. It was the other readers. I didn’t send anyone, I didn’t ask anyone to attack the magazine.
    I contacted and asked that they remove the link at the bottom of the article, that was it lol. So yet again, you blamed me for something I wasn’t actually responsible for. Shocking! Has it ever crossed your mind that your approach is why they can’t run these sorts of articles?

    Before I moved, to my ran down shit hole on rat flats, I would find animals tied to my porch, left in crates in the back of my pickup, so I was heart broken when I saw my new address online suggesting that leaving animals on my property was acceptable. I had FINALLY stopped driving home to find injured/pregnant/abandoned pets chained to my porch. Or in boxes. Having people tell me they knew where I lived and they were going to go poison my dogs because they didn’t get what they wanted from the organization I worked for. And the fear of that starting up again, well, sucked.
    Working at the shelter, bringing random animals needing rehab home and putting myself through college left my finances with the ability to live in Sryinga. Can’t rent if you have animals in and out of your home until they are healthy.
    Syringa went without water and I had to move my animals to somewhere where our basic needs could be met, and found my new shit hole. Hard to get approved for a mortgage while a college student earning nonprofit wages. I tried, but it just didn’t pan out. So, I landed in yet another ran down trailer. Trust me, I was very upset to not have a stick built home. But at the time, I was still pretty convinced if I stayed the course I would start to see the changes in animal welfare in Latah County that I wanted to see. That wire enclosure was my attempt at letting my cats be outside without them being a burden to my neighbors, as I am well aware of how much people love having cats that aren’t their own in their yards. So shame on me? A cat door would work great if I could some how have one that wouldn’t allow them to leave my property. It’s gone now and they are strictly indoor only as I was genuinely concerned someone would cut into it.

    I was ED for 3 years and really thought I could help the animals of Latah County. That’s a total of 14 years working for animal welfare with HSoP. You struck during my first year, and boy was that fun.
    I got my degree in nonprofit management with the goal of someday landing the ED position.
    I had hoped that being ED would help me make changes in local animal welfare and help the board make some informed decisions. What I got was a board who wasn’t ready for change, you, and people like you.
    It was a wild ride. And one I wouldn’t trade for the world.
    At the time of your attacks, I was actively seeking opportunities for feral cats and developing the Barn Buddy program. It was basically a list of people with barns who would take feral cats, but I’m not sure of the status of its progress.
    The constant battle, just became too much for me, and pooped me out so I have stepped away from animal welfare jobs.

    It is absolutely disgusting how you treated someone who made basically minimum wage to work for animals. You ridiculed me publicly about the form of dwelling I could afford for myself. I had to live in a run down trailer so I could afford to work at the shelter, trying to make the changes needed to better help people like you. While dealing with people like you. Every single day. Attacking me for my efforts lol. Living paycheck to paycheck, eating Ramon, getting up every two hours to check on whatever animal I brought home for ICU, working every weekend and Holiday for 11 years…. but you’re right, I didn’t do enough. I know, worlds smallest violin right? It’s all on me how I chose to live and work. I’m not a martyr, just attempting to provide some perspective.

    I am making plans for starting another nonprofit that focuses solely on feral cats. Maybe you would like to volunteer and actually help the feral cat crisis in Latah County? Build a resource like what you found in other counties? That is a serious offer by the way. If you want to see a change, let’s actually do something constitutive about it.

    AHF does great work, and had asked HSoP not to promote them for a time. As they were new and still working out the kinks. They don’t have a facility, and had THREE volunteers. No funding, and a start up. I wasn’t going to send you to them knowing they wouldn’t be able to magically fix your problem. Like you wanted. Why would I set their director up to be treated how I was? No way I was going to do that to her before she had some real experience working animal welfare. People treat you like garbage; I wasn’t going to be part of her learning that.

    Other counties with better funding resources can offer more. That concept shouldn’t be too taxing to
    comprehend. The programs they offer, took time to create. Goals and aspirations I had for HSoP before I got burnt out.

    Anyway, if you seriously want to help feral cats, I am serious about my start up program. And I will need all the help I can get. Maybe you have learned through your struggles with feral cats things I haven’t. I don’t know. When strays show up, I fix them, with my own money. So I have never actually been in your shoes, and am assuming your perspective will help as I develop this program.

    This organization, in theory, will raise funds for TNR, and hopefully start some sort of relocation list/options. And euthanasia for the cats that are not healthy enough for relocation/ TNR. It won’t have the ability to house ferals, (as housing a true feral and not a freaked out stray, is extremely dangerous) and I know how much people love to dump off their problems and I won’t have a facility to accommodate that. My hopes are to provide some assistance for people who don’t know what to do. With you, you stormed out before I could finish the conversation, then was instructed to not interact with you, as you seemed extremely unhinged. I was already working on creating this before you, so don’t go thinking your actions sparked this lol.

    Anyway, we will never be buddies, but maybe we could work together to help others.

    Best Regards,
    Tara Wimer

    • Dear Madam,

      After buttering me up by referring to me as “obsessive,” “absolutely disgusting,” and “unhinged,” no doubt you felt certain that I would immediately fall upon my knees and acquiesce to your request for assistance. Fortunately, I am immune to such blatant forms flattery. In your quest for volunteers, I suggest you take your honeyed tongue elsewhere.

      Ever Your Most Humble Servant,
      Khaliela Wright

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