Visalia nonprofit seeks aid to reduce feral cat population

Visalia Feral Cat Coalition seeks additional financial, veterinarian assistance in mission to lower feral feline population

VISALIA – A local nonprofit organization needs community and veterinary help to reduce the amount of feral cats in the county in a humane way and ensure the ones remaining are living good, fulfilling lives.

Visalia Feral Cat Coalition (VFCC) receives a portion of their funding through occasional state and county grants, but VFCC president Lisa Kucala said most of VFCC’s funding comes from donations. The nonprofit organization uses the funding not only to care for the cats but to provide residents with T-N-R, trap-neuter-return, vouchers. The vouchers cover a fraction of the cost to spay or neuter feral and community cats, which is expensive, so the nonprofit needs more financial help to achieve their goal making the Central Valley a place where the feral cats are taken care of as their population decreases.

“Hopefully, eventually, the population will just wind down, and the only cats born will have homes,” Kucala said.

Kucala said donations come from community members and people on Facebook, who see the hard work of the organization and appreciate the nonprofit’s efforts to reach their goal. However, she said the organization needs additional funding because the vouchers cover majority of the operation cost as well as the cost of vaccines.

“If you go to a vet, they’re going to charge you $200,” Kucala said. “We have clinics that we have agreements with, and you can get a voucher code from us and pay a $30 copay, and the cat’s going to get spayed or neutered, its ear tipped and its shots…and we cover the rest of the bill.”

In addition to community aid, VFCC also needs more veterinary help. The organization has agreements with multiple vet clinics in the country to accept their T-N-R vouchers and operate on the feral cats, which include Valley Oak SPCA and Companion Animal Medical Center in Visalia, the Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic in Porterville and Pacific Crest Veterinary Clinic in Exeter. However, Kucala said the nonprofit recently lost the service of two veterinarians at their partnering clinics, who both decided to retire. She said VFCC is currently receiving help from a veterinarian in Tulare who will spay or neuter 50 cats on a Saturday once a month, but the nonprofit still needs more vet clinics to take their vouchers to help more cats. 

In 2021, VFCC was able to spay and neuter 3,008 feral felines. From January to September this year, the nonprofit has spayed and neutered approximately 1,700 cats, and although they will push to get those numbers higher, this could be a challenge following their recent circumstances. 

One of the nonprofit’s “jewels” in their mission to reduce the feral cat population is Visalia’s Mooney Grove Park. Kucala said when VFCC started operations in 2013, there were well over 100 cats in the park.

“There were kittens falling out of trees,” Kucala said. “It was horrific, and that’s kind of what the catalyst to start all of this was.”

Right now, Kucala said her husband is working on building a new cat house to add to the park. She said there are a couple of modified dog houses currently at the location to give the felines some shelter, but the newest addition is being made specifically for the cats. It’s a wooden structure that has multiple entrances and exits, and Kucala said it should be completed within a few weeks.

Aside from cash donations, residents looking to help VFCC can donate beds for the felines or cat food, which Kucala said is always a huge need for the organization. She also said residents can help by volunteering to foster feral kittens before they are ready to be adopted, which residents should take special care with since the kittens need to be tamed. VFCC’s website recommends that residents interested in taming feral kittens should wear leather gloves and keep them away from their faces.

Visalia Feral Cat Coalition is taking the steps to break the cycle of breeding of the feral cat population by slowing it down and eventually bringing it to a stop in a humane way. VFCC makes an effort to catch feral cats and get them to a veterinary clinic to be spayed or neutered. They also ensure to get the feral cats their shots, both their FVRCP vaccines as well as their rabies shots.

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