|PONTIAC – A little gray cat crouched in a cage in the back yard of a modest home on Ferry Avenue. The animal let out cries as it batted its paws against the wire trap, struggling to get away.
Standing near the cage was Pam Porteous of the Animal Care Network, who was told that eight more homeless cats were roaming the area.
“This is really the time of year when they are starting to reproduce,” Porteous said. “This is the time of year they call kitten season.”
Unfortunately, many of these cats carry fatal diseases that can be transmitted to healthy pets, she said.
As a precaution, the Animal Care Network, Centerstage & QTMC rental hall and the city of Pontiac are hosting an inexpensive vaccination clinic for dogs and cats to keep family pets safe. The Saturday, April 18, clinic is open to anyone, and Pontiac residents also will be able to get a 2009 dog license for $10.
Porteous said the network is seeing more stray cats as people suffering from the lagging economy leave their pets behind when they move.
With the help of her assistant, Carrie Giffin, Porteous spent Thursday checking on live traps they had set to catch stray cats.
Opening up the back door of the van, Porteous lifted the cage containing the gray cat to an empty crate. It was about 1 p.m., and already they had collected 16 kittens with mothers.
Their day was far from over, however, with more traps to check and set.
At least 10 live traps had been placed in the back yards of residents who go to the Animal Care Network experiencing problems with stray cats.
Neighbors of one abandoned home reported between 10 and 15 stray cats hanging around.
Cats are often overlooked, because the city contracts to have only dogs picked up by animal control officials, Porteous said. That leaves residents open to problems, as stray cats give birth to litters and adult cats begin getting into homes and garages.
After leaving the home on Ferry Avenue, the pair drove to a home on Shirley Street, where some traps had been set in a garage. There, two blackand-white cats were picked up after being left to fend for themselves when the homeowner died.
Porteous said the two cats were pretty tame, because the homeowner had fed them.
Cats that are tame and healthy are cleaned up and placed into a pet adoption program. Others considered to be feral, or that are too ill, will be euthanized, she said.
A person who lives in Walton Manor mobile home park, off Walton Boulevard, near Baldwin Avenue, called for their help. The resident complained that at least three or four cats are roaming the neighborhood, stalking residents.
Mother cats protecting their young will lash out, Porteous said.
While three cats collected from the neighborhood so far appeared to be somewhat healthy, others are not so lucky. Diseases such as feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus — similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — are commonly found in the strays they pick up.
Feline immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS in cats, although humans cannot be infected with the virus. Cats get the disease through deep bite wounds that occur in fights. It also can be passed on to a kitten from its mother.
Feline leukemia is transmitted through the saliva or blood of infected animals. It, too, can be passed on to kittens by their mothers.
If the diseases aren’t acquired when the cat is young, it is less likely they will catch it as adults, he said.
Feral cats, however, often are carriers, and can pass it on to a pet if an owner is not careful, Steep added.
The best protection against a pet contracting disease is to get it vaccinated.
Porteous says they hope people take advantage of the opportunity to protect their dog or cat at the upcoming clinic.
“With the economy the way it is, for $10, you can’t beat that,” she said.
The pet vaccination clinic is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Centerstage & QTMC rental hall, 536 N. Perry St. in Pontiac. Pet owners will be able to get their dog or cat vaccinated for $10, or $25 per litter. Dogs and puppies may get distemper and parvo vaccinations, while cats can get their distemper CVR vaccinations. Owners will be able to get their animals vaccinated for rabies. Call (248) 678-2756.