Catch and release: Knoxville's plan for feral cats

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville City leaders have a plan to cut down on the number of stray carts. They approved a new ordinance that allows Young-Williams Animal Center to catch them, have them spayed or neutered, and let them back into the community.

In 2018, Young- Williams CEO Janet Testerman said about 4,000 cats spent time in cages. The city of Knoxville hopes that stat will drop with a new feral cat program.

"It is basically giving us permission to trap cats, have them vaccinated and altered, and then release them back to where they came from," said Christi Jarvis, who is the Community Cat Program Coordinator.

By alter, Christi Jarvis means spay or neuter. She's leading the community cat program.

"If people see a community of cats, a group of cats, they can call me," said Jarvis. "I can come out there, and we can trap them, and get them here, so they don't have to do it themselves."

Young- Williams said this new program will make a difference and save money. Testerman said the project has been in the works for about 2 years.

"What we're really doing is addressing the core issue of over population and this is the best known strategy that is out there," said Testerman. "We're not reinventing the wheel, we're just trying to catch up with the colleagues across the welfare community."

A female cat can have about 20 kittens a year. If she lives 15 years, she could have about 300 kittens.

"Nobody wants a yelling, screaming, cat climbing all over their car or climbing on their fence, terrorizing their dogs in the background," said Jarvis. "It's super exciting. I'm really excited about this."

Young-Williams said they plant to start next month. They are looking for volunteers to help trap the cats and let them back into the community.