TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Leisha Marler loves cats – but she says there are too many strays in the city. In her own small way she is trying to do something about it.

It hasn’t been easy for her or her pocketbook. She’s received flak from neighbors accusing her of harboring more cats than city code permits – even though she says she’s not – and her efforts to help the animals, which include taking them to veterinarian services for health examinations and vaccines, have been costly.

“This is my own money,” she said, noting she doesn’t receive any financial help except from those who may donate to her cause once in a while.

Then why does she do it?

“The bottom line is I’m trying to get cats out of the city and help these animals,” she said during a recent interview.

She formed her rescue after friends encouraged her to do so when they saw how much she was doing to help the animals. She has a name – Forgotten Felines – but hasn’t yet met all the requirements to achieve nonprofit status, something she says she’s working on doing.

She keeps the cats she traps for only a day or so, she says, before she places them with foster families or shelters. Some people will accept feral animals as “barn cats” to catch mice, she says.

Marler places cats in foster homes across the state, she says. Here, one kitten that has since gone to a home plays in a cage.
Marler places cats in foster homes across the state, she says. Here, one kitten that has since gone to a home plays in a cage.

Multiply By …
The cause of the stray problem is twofold: The first is irresponsible pet owners who do not have their cats spayed or neutered and let them run wild in their neighborhoods, she says. The second is that cats tend to multiply rather frequently.

Kittens, even from feral colonies, may be cute. But without domestication and proper care they too become feral. They also breed at an early age and can have up to three litters a year, according to one unofficial website.

The Twin Falls Animal Shelter receives new cats all of the time, says employee Brittany Triner. Most of the cats that come to the shelter are either from animal control officers or private citizens.

“We get stray cats multiple times a day,” she said.

Once a cat comes to the shelter it is placed on hold between 48 and 72 hours to see if anyone claims it before it is put up for adoption – “if  it’s adoptable,” Triner said. Sometimes rescues will take cats from the shelter. As of Friday afternoon the shelter had 44 cats in holding.

Mary Holley, who some years ago co-founded an animal rescue called Anythings Pawsable that has had its nonprofit status since 2011, said her rescue has been burdened by animals.

“We are inundated with rescued animals; we can’t keep up,” she said. “People won’t call the shelters or the police because they’re told they won’t do anything. So they call us or another rescue.”

People Problem
“It is not an animal problem,” said Taylor Oswald. “It’s a people problem.”

Oswald, who volunteers at Forgotten Felines and has helped other area rescues, says one way to fight the feral cat problem is for pet owners to make sure their cat is spayed or neutered. Sadly, many don’t take the time or spend the money to have it done.

Then why have a cat at all? she asks.

Leisha Marler started her own animal rescue called 'Forgotten Felines' after encouragement from friends because they saw how much she was already doing to help the animals. (Photo by Andrew Weeks)
Leisha Marler started her own animal rescue after encouragement from friends because they saw how much she already was doing to help the animals.

“People have to become better educated,” she said. “They need to know the consequences of not having their pet spayed or neutered.”

It’s an issue that will take time to overcome.

“I do what I can,” Marler said, noting that she and other rescues often work together. She said recently that she has 64 cats in rescue spread across the state. She currently is working on getting her nonprofit status.

“We’re going around cleaning up everyone’s mess,” she said. “I was going to quit but somehow God provides for me to keep doing this.”

Editor’s Note: This is the second article of two on a local cat controversy.

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