A foundation created by concerned locals has been formed to help resolve the growing stray cat issues in the area.

The Yass Valley Feline Foundation aims to reduce the number of cats on the streets and in backyards by raising funds to go towards a program of trapping, neutering and rehoming stray kittens. It also hopes to support community members who can’t afford the necessary vet work for their pet cats.

Jo Hicks, one of the founders of the foundation, said she has been amazed by the level of interest from the community.

“I set up a Facebook group probably two or three months ago for cats and kittens in Yass because I’d seen a lot of posts on the notice board about cats going missing and stray cats being picked up.”

“I was quite surprised by the interest and then I got a phone call from Janno Scanes, who’s now the president of our group, and she said that she’s had feral cat problems for 35 years.”

“I’ve got calls and messages from people who have feral cat issues from all over the place. We had a meeting probably two months ago where about eight people showed up and from that we pretty much decided that we should set up a foundation in Yass so that we could raise money and do it properly,” said Jo.

The reason for each individual’s interest varies quite drastically.

“There’s empty houses that just get full of them and they eat wildlife. We’ve had people that love birds that want to protect them from cats basically.”

“Other people that don’t like seeing the cats sick or their babies have gotten sick. That’s not very pleasant either for people that love animals ”

“I guess they’re the main issues. It’s either people that don’t want the cats to suffer, people that want to protect wildlife and people that want cats off the street,” said Jo.

The foundation has begun its fundraising at local markets but would like to hold events once the current Covid situation settles down.

“We did a stall at Riverbank Markets which was fairly good but it was a cold day. We sold a few plants and some cat related things. It’s really just an opportunity to talk to people. We were handing out flyers and talking about what we do and why we do it.”

“We’ve also done a stall at the Yass Rotary Community Markets at the Memorial Hall where we did the same thing and had quite a good day. Had a raffle where we sold a lot of tickets, sold a lot of stuff and spoke to a lot of people.”

“We hope when Covid’s permitting we’ll do events. We might do a film night and get people to come along to that,” she said.

Jo was surprised by how many people in the Yass Valley are already involved with cat rescue groups and has already been in discussion with local stakeholders who support the new foundation. The foundation also has plans to consult with other groups that could potentially better their service.

“It was interesting when I put that page up there’s probably at least eight people in the Yass Valley that work for other rescues and so they’re already foster caring for Canberra.”

“We’ve been talking to the local vets and I’ve been talking to a ranger and she’s supportive. We’ve got quite a few people that have got experience in rescue and we’ve obviously got to work closely with the Council and vets in the area.”

“We’d also love to speak to people in landcare and wildcare as well. So that we can get their input too from the environmental side,” she said.

To find out about how you can get involved, head to the Yass Valley Feline Foundation Facebook page.

Max O’Driscoll