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Local group works to control the cat population

CatTown Rescue has put the local feral cats on notice - there will be no more free reproduction in Polk and St. Croix counties.

CatTown Rescue, operated by Tanya Borg and Sue Birch, work in cooperation with St. Paul, Minn.-based Stray Feral Rescue to offer a Farm, Feral and Stray spay/neuter program for cats in the 54026 zip code.

The group was recently awarded a $3,750 grant through PetSmart Charaties to help spay/neuter 70 free-roaming felines.

"There's a real problem here in Polk and St. Croix counties," Borg said. "There's an estimated 14,000 feral cats in Polk County alone."

Borg said many of those cats live on local farms and were taken in by farmers who felt sorry for them.

"They take them in and soon they have kittens," she said. "Those kittens take off at eight to 10 weeks and show up in other places where they're taken in and fed and then there are more kittens. People can't afford to fix all these kittens, so that's what we're hoping to help with."

CatTown Rescue works with four different local veterinary clinics who offer the organization a discount on spay/neuter rates. The grant also pays to vaccinate the felines against Rabies.

According to the CatTown Rescue website, "People call us about stray cats that they are feeding and that are having kittens under their porches or in their garages, and we trap those cats and get them spayed or neutered. We also make sure those cats get vaccinated for rabies to make it safer for the people in the community. Afterwards we release the cats back where they can continue to be fed by the kind people who call us. The difference? Now these cats have no more kittens, there are no more cats fighting in the night, no more cats spraying and stinking things up. For the most part, very few people will even know that the cats are still there, other than the fact that the rodent population will remain under control."

Borg said the big challenge is going to be convincing area farmers that the cats are a problem.

"Farmers think 'Oh, they're just barn cats,' but it's because of those barn cats that the Polk County Animal Shelter has a 66 percent kill rate for cats," Borg said. "We have a huge overpopulation of kittens and they have to do something to make space for the other animals coming in. We want to stop that."

So far 14 people have signed up for the program, Borg said. She hopes to get more as the word spreads.

"I'm currently in the process of meeting with all the towns to let them know this is available," she said. "This is brand new to our area. It's been doing great across the county but no one is doing it locally."

The Free-Roaming Cat Spay/Neuter grant will allow CatTown Rescue to pay for 70 spay/neuters in the Star Prairie area, Borg said. She said the group hopes to get more grants in the future.

Anyone interested in having their feral cats spayed/neutered can call the Farm, Feral and Stray Program at 715-501-8488. Those interested in donating to CatTown Rescue's cause can do so by visiting CatTown Rescue's website at

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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