9865092668?profile=RESIZE_710xDelray Beach Commissioner Juli Casale with Petunia, a rescue cat she adopted. Delray commissioners voted in October to create a TNVR program, which stands for trap-neuter-vaccinate-return, for roaming cats in the city. BELOW: Before a cat is returned, its left ear is snipped so it is easily identifiable as having been neutered and vaccinated. Photos provided

By Arden Moore9865095262?profile=RESIZE_400x

The cats sharing the home of Delray Beach City Commissioner Juli Casale answer to the sweet names of Pip and Petunia. Both were rescued as strays and now enjoy a purr-filled life inside the Casale home that also includes a pair of cat-accepting canines named Henry and Emily.
Pip is the one who inspired Casale to step up and take action to aid community cats roaming the streets of Delray Beach. About four years ago, she spotted Pip as an orphaned kitten dodging traffic on a four-lane road and managed to pick her up and adopt her.
“She was so tiny that I had to feed her formula and now, she likes to sleep curled under my arm,” says Casale. “My other cat, Petunia, is like a dog who greets you at the door, follows you around the house and is always on my desk next to me when I work.”
In October, the city commissioners unanimously voted to earmark $25,000 to create a TNVR program. TNVR stands for trap-neuter-vaccinate-return and involves collecting unowned, roaming cats, getting them vaccinated and spayed or neutered and then returning them to their locations.
Each cat’s left ear is surgically cut at the tip by a veterinarian as a universal sign that the cat has been spayed or neutered and does not need to be re-trapped.
The city is working with the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, as well as teaming up with local cat TNVR groups to round up these felines.
“My daughter, Kiki, and I feed cats in five locations and many of them have been TNVR and rub up against your leg for affection,” says Casale. “It’s estimated that there are between 7,000 and 11,000 stray cats in Delray Beach. This is a health and safety issue and simply, the right thing to do.”
Paul Bates, who heads the community outreach TNVR program at Peggy Adams, says, “Our records show that the city of Delray Beach has had a long-standing issue with cat overpopulations. Over the past 10 years, we have provided TNVR to more than 2,000 cats from the city of Delray Beach.
“We also know that there are a lot of community cat advocates in Delray Beach who regularly feed colonies. Some of these community cat advocates have been very vocal on social media and believe the county needs to provide more for the free-roaming cats.”
An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 free-roaming cats live in Palm Beach County. If they can reproduce, those numbers can skyrocket and pose health risks because the newborns also are not vaccinated.
Bates reports that his shelter performed 3,839 TNVR surgeries in 2020 and as of October, had done 3,646 TNVR surgeries this year.
These free-roaming cats are called community cats and fall into two categories: feral and stray. Feral cats live outdoors in cat colonies and are generally not socialized and do not readily accept being handled by people. Strays are cats who are lost or abandoned pets who are friendly and can be handled safely. Some of these cats develop trust with people, like Casale, who volunteer to feed them.
Casale hopes the TNVR program begins this month. Local volunteer groups who do TNVR in Delray have offered to help. So has Brian Clancy, president of a nonprofit called Purrzilla Cat Rescue that is based in Boynton Beach. He estimates that he has done TNVR on about 10,000 community cats since 1996.
“Purrzilla’s mission is to help solve the crisis of unwanted community, feral and stray cats,” says Clancy. “We have cat feeding stations in different communities and I have a good army of fosters who help some of these cats get adopted.”
Bates welcomes the action by Delray Beach’s city leaders.
“Juli is very fond of cats and has rescued a few,” says Bates. “My hope is this will set an example for other cities in the county to do the same.”

Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, author, speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. She hosts Oh Behave! weekly on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.


Learn more

Peggy Adams Rescue League offers an online TNVR master class that consists of eight short videos and covers the basics of how to humanely trap, manage and reduce the outdoor cat population. For more information about TNVR efforts and other programs at the Rescue League, visit www.peggyadams.org.

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