Instituting a "trap, neuter, release," or TNR, program in Brick will humanely control the township's population of feral cats, officials say.
The program, which runs on a volunteer basis, involves trapping stray cats, sending them to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, then releasing them.
"We have an overpopulation of cats in town, and probably all across the United States," said Councilman Michael Thulen, who has been working with volunteers in town to help get the project off the ground.
Thulen said he's been working with "colony caretakers," volunteers in town who are responsible for getting the TNR program started in their neighborhoods. The colony caretakers must take classes to learn about the program and how it is administered. After cats are spayed or neutered, the colony caretakers look after the cat until it is released.
According to the Feral Cat Caretakers' Coalition, TNR programs are usually more successful than trapping and killing feral cats since TNR is an ongoing effort that prevents future births, rather than a short-term population control effort where many cats are left to breed.
Brick officials are in the process of establishing a pool of veterinarians who will perform the surgeries. The veterinarian fees will be paid through the township, and fundraising efforts are underway to raise money to defray the cost.
"As the cats are collected in groups, 10 or 15 at a time, we would go to this veterinary pool," Thulen said. "They would be paid by the donations and then invoiced through the township. Hopefully, because it is the township writing the check, the vets will give us a good price."
"We’re going to try to avoid using any taxpayer money," Thulen added.
Those who have already started the program say they can already see results.
"We have been seeing tremendous results in birth reductions in our colonies," said Adrianne Sarno, a colony caretaker who lives in the Kentwood Village development. "It’s a positive for not only the animals, but for all of us in our communities."
Thulen said those interested in participating in the program should contact the Brick Township Recreation Department at 732-262-1076.
"The intention is, hopefully, by the end of this year to actually start trapping, neutering and releasing cats around town," Thulen said.