Taking on feral cats

"Have a heart" traps are used to capture feral cats so they can be spayed or neutered by Scruff.

"Have a heart" traps are used to capture feral cats so they can be spayed or neutered by Scruff. Submitted Photo

— “People preferably will trap their own cats and bring them in on an appointment basis. … In some cases if people are unable to do the trapping themselves, oftentimes we can arrange for a volunteer to assist them with that,” said Blankfein.

The Town of Colonie authorized the purchase of have-a-heart traps that are available to town residents hoping to trap a feral cat on their property. The traps are available through Colonie Animal Control.

Scruff holds “spay days” on the third Sunday of every month and averages about 70 surgeries each time, a number that varies based on the weather or effectiveness of the traps.

“We try to schedule around 85 and hope 70 show up,” said Blankfein.

There are between 50 and 60 active volunteers that help keep Scruff running and Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Guilderland is Scruff’s main location.


“There are a couple clinics in the area that will help us out if someone has caught a cat and needs to get it done right away,” said Blankfein.

Having “unaltered cats” roaming your property can be unpleasant, especially if there’s a larger colony occupying the space. Cats that aren’t fixed tend to fight more frequently, yowl or cry more often and their urine has a stronger stench.

“These are the nuisance behaviors that a lot of people complain about but when an animal or cat gets spayed and neutered they don’t fight nearly as much, urine doesn’t have nearly as strong a smell and the yowling behavior stops because they’re not going through heat and engaging in reproductive activity,” said Blankfein.

Some people wonder why Scruff returns the cats if they’re clearly unwanted neighbors. Blankfein said it’s the best option.

“The cats occupy a location because of a reason and that usually means there are resources available in terms of food or shelter, so if you have the cats sterilized then they will be there consuming those resources and then fewer cats can occupy,” said Blankfein. “Whereas if cats were just to be removed, a new cat would move in right away.”

Sterilizing the Capital District’s feral cats can get pricey. The suggested Scruff donation is $35 and there’s a nominal fee for residents to have a cat spayed or neutered. Still, surgeries can require up to $80 or $100 for necessary supplies.

“Those fees barely cover the expenses of what’s involved and procedures, as far as anesthetic drugs to use and vaccines and supplies,” said Blankfein.

The Mohawk-Hudson River Humane Society also received a $3,000 grant courtesy of Reilly. Reilly’s salary is doled out through the Community Foundation of the Greater Capital Region.

For more information on Scruff, visit scruffcats.org.

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