Holladay--Not every cat lurking in the bushes of Holladay is a stray or an outside pet. What looks like a normal household cat could be a feral cat, a descendant of a domesticated feline that has returned to the wild. Salt Lake County Animal Services has partnered with No More Homeless Pets in Utah to control the population of these animals and a “Trap Neuter Return” pilot program began in Holladay at the end of February.

“We have noticed that in other communities, residents get behind this because it is a life saving program,” said John Coulter, Salt Lake County Animal Services Adoption and Outreach Supervisor.

The traditional method to control population included trapping the cats and taking them to a local shelter to be euthanized. Coulter said that they handle close to 5000 cats each year with almost 30 percent considered feral.

“Cats can breed up to three times a year with six to eight kittens in a litter. You can see how it can get out of control,” Coulter said.

By removing the cats and euthanizing them, experts have noticed that a vacuum effect happens. Since the food or water source has not been taken away, new feral cats will move into the area and a repetitive cycle begins.

The pilot program protects the life of the feral cat as well as the health of domesticated animals in a neighborhood. Once the county animal services are notified, a specialist will trap the feral cats in the area, bring them to a veterinarian for neutering and then provide full vaccinations.

“This will also include clipping one of the ears of the cat which will identify the cat as neutered in the field so it does not get trapped again,” Coulter said. “We will educate the neighborhood to make sure they understand the program and so far we have been very successful.”

The program is funded by grants from the non-profit organization No More Homeless Pets in Utah and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Residents that have feral cats in their neighborhood are encouraged to contact Coulter at (801) 559-1131.