Staff and volunteers at the Collierville Animal Shelter (CAS) have their own personal greeter when arriving for work.
Cinnamon is one of the shelter’s semi-feral cats who lives in the outdoor area behind the shelter. These cats already perform a service for the shelter and the homes in the area – they keep the rodent and other creature population down to a manageable level.
But Cinnamon decided her other job would be to say good morning and good evening to the people who provide food, shelter and just enough human interaction – not too much, not too little – for herself and the other feral cats.
“Cinnamon and the other feral cats are ‘TNR’s’,” said Shelter Manager Christina Hodge. “They are trapped, neutered and then released back to the outdoors where they are most comfortable.”
Hodge said the outdoor cats are well cared for; they have several small houses and structures to get inside during cold weather and access to areas with fans during the summer. Most of them come to the shelter from nearby apartment complexes where they aren’t welcome.
Sometimes CAS staff will bring some of these strays inside to see if they can become acclimated to indoor life and become available for adoption, but Hodge said this doesn’t always work.
“Some can’t get used to the idea of using a litter box, or they cry out like they don’t have any idea how to hang out in the indoor cat area,” said Hodge. “This lets us know they have been living outside and are more accustomed to that lifestyle.”
Hodge did say that stray kittens are easier to train to an indoor life, and some of the adult cats like Cinnamon come around at least enough to develop a relationship with the staff.
“Cinnamon has been here long enough that she has become accustomed to our routines. She will greet anyone who will let her, but she still never tries to get inside the building. There are one or two others who will let certain people touch them, but for the most part, the rest are feral.”
These TNR’d “community cats” are recognizable by their tipped ears. An ear tip is done when the top 3/8-inch of a cat’s ear is removed during surgery and is the universal symbol to identify a neutered and vaccinated cat.