Cat colony yields around 200 to shelter

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  • Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Roger Guches sets down a carrier holding one of the estimated around 200 cats removed from a cat colony in the Yaak on Friday. The holding pen in the background was set up and connected to a storage building to provide space for the cats. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

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    A cat in a cage trap meows outside the Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Libby on Friday. The cat was one of an estimated around 200 from a colony in the Yaak. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

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    Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Director Wendy Anderson unloads a carrier holding one of an estimated around 200 cats from a colony in the Yaak Friday, as Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Roger Guches goes to retrieve more cats from the van. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

  • Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Roger Guches sets down a carrier holding one of the estimated around 200 cats removed from a cat colony in the Yaak on Friday. The holding pen in the background was set up and connected to a storage building to provide space for the cats. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

  • 1

    A cat in a cage trap meows outside the Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Libby on Friday. The cat was one of an estimated around 200 from a colony in the Yaak. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

  • 2

    Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Director Wendy Anderson unloads a carrier holding one of an estimated around 200 cats from a colony in the Yaak Friday, as Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Roger Guches goes to retrieve more cats from the van. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

The Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter is taking in around 200 cats from a colony in the Yaak, and spaying and neutering could have saved the cats’ owners a lot of trouble.

Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Director Wendy Anderson said that the cats’ owners loved and tried to care for the cats, but that they quickly were overwhelmed by the speed at which cats that haven’t been fixed can multiply.

They were feeding the cats around 40 pounds of food a day, said Lincoln County Animal Control Officer Roger Guches.

A single female cat can have around three litters a year, and about half of the six kittens in each litter may be a female cat. Within four months, each of those female cats is able to start having kittens.

“It goes from a few cats to 200 in a relatively short time,” Guches said.

People failing to get their pets fixed is definitely an issue in Lincoln County, Anderson said. Only last year, the shelter helped to re-home cats from a colony in the Eureka area that had grown to around 125 cats.

Guches said that as soon as he is done with this cat colony, he already has others he needs to look into.

The process to rehome so many cats is not a quick one, Anderson and Guches agreed.

Guches spent months developing a report with the owners, letting them know that he was interested in helping them rather than coming down on them.

“I believe that the approach that I made with them is so important — to come across non abrasive, and “I’m here to help; I’m a public servant,” he said.

Guches said that he wants residents to know that animal control is there to resolve situations rather than punish owners who find themselves “in over their heads.” And the sooner someone gets help, the easier the situation is to resolve.

Anderson said the shelter, which is a 501c3 under contract with the county, is always in need of volunteers and donations.

Monetary donations are always welcome, as are supplies such as food, clumping clay litter, paper towels and Clorox wipes.

“We’ve got plenty of bedding, but we can always use those donations,” she said. “And of course monetary to offset the cost of spay/neuter, because each cat is going to cost us between $50 and $60 to spay/neuter and vaccinate.”

The Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter Libby is open to the public Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m.

“We’re not just about the pets, we’re about people too, and we’re about community and we want to help,” she said. “We want to offer, if you need food, stop by. If you need, you know, advice, if you need training advice, stop by.

“We’re willing to help. We don’t want animals in here. We want you to be able to retain them,” Anderson said.

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