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Bordentown City Cats keep streets feline friendly

Apr 02, 2013 06:08AM, Published by Community News Service, Categories: Community

Bordentown City Cats volunteer members Jennifer Sciortino, Madelene Karlowitsch and Patricia Varga raise money for the organization at the 2012 Cranberry Festival. (Photo by Suzette J. Lucas.)

By Pat Summers

Volunteers all, the members of Bordentown City Cats aim to rescue and take care of outside cats. The group uses a trap-neuter-return program that includes maintaining five or six feral cat colonies. They also foster homeless stray cats until they can be adopted, and, because Bordentown lacks an Animal Control Officer, they respond to city officials’ alerts about cats in need. Then, in their spare time, they sponsor or participate in activities that help finance their efforts for cats. That’s the cat-serving cycle they’ve developed during the group’s decade in existence. BCC’s 10th annual flea market, scheduled for Saturday, April 6, is the organization’s main fundraising event. All proceeds go to the group’s continuing work on behalf of cats. The community event features more than 40 tables offering a wide range of “new and used finds, artisan jewelry, a bake sale and prizes,” said Jennifer Sciortino, communications coordinator. She said pieces will be available from local artists and jewelers, as well as antique furniture, electronics, bicycles, clothing, household items and plants. No cats will be on hand, though there will be information about those available for adoption. Besides coming out to buy things at the flea market, residents and business owners contribute to the event in other ways, too. They may rent a space ($20) to sell their own new or used goods, and/or donate old items or baked goods to be sold. They can also donate gift certificates or merchandise from area businesses for use as prizes. The group was formed nearly 10 years ago when Mary Ann Kieffer first came to Bordentown and noticed the abundance of cats. A long-time resident even told her that summer fun for kids used to be going outside to play with the kittens, who were all over town. So Kieffer put an ad in the paper inviting those interested in monitoring on the cat population to meet at her house, and that was the beginning of BCC. Now, she said, it’s not just kittens the group has focused on. “We are encountering more abandoned cats due to foreclosures or simply owners’ inability to care for them anymore,” Kieffer said. Finding enough people to foster cats and kittens is the group’s biggest challenge, she said, despite that role’s being “the best of all worlds” because BCC pays for all food and vet visits. And besides offering a haven for cats of all ages who need homes, foster families may get to enjoy kittens “at their cutest” without long-term obligations. Although most BCC member-volunteers already have cats at home, “they step up and do what’s needed,” Sciortino said. She herself started out as a foster, taking in two brothers, an orange tabby and a tuxedo. Then she couldn’t let them go, and now Calvin and Hobbes are two years old and solid members of the family. Just a few felines are in foster care right now, but “kitten season,” which runs well into summer, is fast approaching, and the number of fosters is bound to grow. Available cat numbers also grow after a hoarder situation is uncovered. Tallulah, one of Kieffer’s three cats, arrived that way. Her special needs would have hindered adoption, but not with Keiffer, who reports she’s doing great. When it comes to rescuing outside cats, BCC has a process it follows. Trap, the first step of trap-neuter-return, involves luring unowned outdoor cats into traps so they can be transported to a veterinarian for vaccination and sterilization. The ear tip on some outdoor cats signals they’ve already made that trip and they’re not going to reproduce. To BCC members, feral cats are those found in traps who are not adoptable. They haven’t been socialized to people, and once neutered, they’re happy living outdoors, away from people. Such cats were probably part of a colony of similar cats, and after being vetted, that’s where they’re returned.

Jennifer Sciortinos cats Calvin and Hobbes started out as fosters before Sciortino adopted them two years ago

BCC members follow a feeding schedule to assure these felines can stay in place. Gradually, sterilized colony cats die off. The combination of TNR and colony attrition has made a significant difference in cat population numbers, Sciortino says. Stray cats have been lost or abandoned by their owners. One sign of their domestication is that they often come right up to the people feeding them—a sign of trust and comfort with people. Once vetted, these cats are the ones BCC will foster until they’re adopted. The organization partners with PetSmart on Nassau Park Boulevard in West Windsor. In exchange for cleaning cages and helping care for the cats there, BCC takes advantage of its volunteer-run adoption center. To adopt a cat of any age, the fee of $100 includes the earlier vetting and spay/neuter. The flea market is set to be held April 6, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Carslake Community Center, located at 209 Crosswicks Street in Bordentown. To rent a flea market space, donate to the event or adopt or foster a cat, contact BCC at Phone: (609) 324-3896. To see all the cats in the care of Bordentown City Cats, go online to the organization’s website, Faceook: Twitter: @BtownCityCats.


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