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Unwanted cats a growing problem in Ceres, county
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Ceres has the third largest human population of all cities in Stanislaus County but produces the second largest number of unwanted cats.

However, all parts of the county have a problem when it comes to unwanted cats.

Well-intentioned folks are part of the problem, said Modesto veterinarian Mike O'Brien. They are feeding feral cats, which in turn causes them to be healthy and draws them together to be more sexually active to produce large, healthy litters. If they're not spayed or neutered, that means more unwanted cats.

"We are emphasizing fix before you feed," said O'Brien. "We ask people to try to commit to catching the cat and having it fixed. Many are somewhat tame.

"If you can't get them fix, don't feed them. A lot of people don't want to put out the money but they will be paying more in feeding."

The cat overpopulation is the true problem at the Stanislaus County Animal Shelter, said O'Brien. While euthanasia numbers of dogs at the shelter have dropped, cat euthanasia is up. Of the estimated 17,000 deaths at the pound, 12,000 are cats.

"This impacts the workloads at the shelter tremendously."

Cat lover Karen Mosser of Ceres thinks that's deplorable and suggests more needs to be done to get cat owners to be more responsible in seeking out spay and neuter services.

"It just seems to me that it's more humane to spay and neuter and it's less cost to the taxpayers than euthanasia," said Mosser.

O'Brien notes that the county has an ordinance which states that anyone feeding a stray cat or dog for 14 days or more, is responsible for it.

Many local rescue groups and vet clinics offer low-cost spay and neuter programs. Alley Cat Guardians, a non-profit group, offers a program for trapped feral cats and may be reached at 209-566-CATS. They are located at 1430 Carpenter Lane, Suite B, Modesto. The Stanislaus Area Veterinarians for the Economically Disadvantaged (SAVED) clinic for low-income residents is offered at the county animal shelter at 3643 Cornucopia Way, Ceres/Modesto. Their number is (209) 525-4760.

Mosser's love for cats sent her on a personal mission to do what she can to curb the population of unwanted cats, especially in Ceres. She often takes feral cats to vet clinics to be spayed and neutered. Mosser has also worked with county government leaders to establish a policy that is humane toward cats.

She has been working to reach out and educate residents of mobilehome parks, saying that the problem of stray cats seems to be worse.

"Not enough is being done," she said. "I really don't know what they're going to do."

The topic of unwanted cats is the topic of a four-hour Feline Population Symposium set for Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Stanislaus County Ag Center's Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way (west of Ceres). Admission is free to the 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. event and guest speakers will include Dr. Kate Hurley, director of Koret Shelter Medicine Programs at U.C. Davis; and Staycee Dains of the San Jose Animal Services.

"We're just trying to get the communication going," said O'Brien.