Cats, like their humans, are naturally drawn to Las Vegas. The promise of easy riches, free-flowing catnip and the bright lights can be irresistible.

But the outlook is grim for the unlucky few who lose it all and don’t have bus fare back home. They end up begging for handouts at the all-you-can-eat buffets, and seeking refuge during the day from the brutal desert sun.

Fortunately, Best Friends Animal Society has teamed up with a Las Vegas casino to set up a trap-neuter-return program to help Las Vegas ferals. Here’s the story from Best Friends’ staff writer Sandy Miller:

Vegas hotel-casino to have trap/neuter/return program

By Sandy Miller, Best Friends’ staff writer

They arent looking to win a seven-figure jackpot that would set them up for life. They arent wishing for a lucky turn of the dice. And they couldnt care less about all those slot machines.

All theyre looking for are regular meals and a safe place to live out their lives. And thanks to Best Friends Animal Society, along with some help from local volunteers, the cats at one large Las Vegas hotel and casino are getting just that.

Like a number of businesses, the hotel-casino has discovered that the best way and indeed the most humane way to deal with the feral cats on its property is to set up a trap/neuter/return program. So Best Friends staff and local volunteers are setting up feeding stations in areas of the property that dont have tourist traffic.

The hotel has done the right thing, says Shelly Kotter, campaign specialist for Focus on Felines, one of four campaigns aimed at reaching the goal of No More Homeless Pets. Its a long-term solution that will have benefits for the hotel and the cats.

Kotter said she doesnt want to reveal the name of the hotel-casino because people might abandon their cats there.

Best Friends staff and volunteers will humanely trap the 15 to 20 cats living on the hotel property and take them to a Las Vegas veterinary clinic that has agreed to provide low-cost spaying and neutering.

Volunteers will be a big part of it, Kotter says.

Feral and shy cats account for a large percentage of the five million animals that are killed in U.S. shelters each year. But its been shown that trapping and killing feral cats does nothing to keep their numbers down. Once those cats are gone, other unaltered cats will simply take their place, bringing nuisances like spraying and late-night mating calls with them. And it doesnt take long for their populations to grow.

What does work is trap/neuter/return, or TNR. The cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic where theyre spayed or neutered and vaccinated. While under the anesthesia, a small tip of one of their ears is taken off to identify that theyre part of a managed cat colony. Then theyre returned to the area from which they came where caregivers continue to feed and watch over them. Spaying and neutering takes care of all the nuisances associated with unaltered cats.

Best Friends is launching a Las Vegas chapter of its Focus on Felines campaign and hopes more Las Vegas residents will get involved in helping the citys feral and stray cats or community cats. Best Friends will hold a free workshop for feral cat caregivers and others interested in learning how to help community cats from 1 to 3 p.m., Sept. 5, inside the Findlay Chevrolet Community Room at 6800 S. Torrey Pines Dr., in Las Vegas.

Among other things, the workshop will cover:

  • The basics of TNR
  • Understanding relocation
  • Working with your neighbors on nuisance concerns
  • Working with your local vets
  • Working with your local government and animal control

To learn more, e-mail Kotter at shellyk@bestfriends.org.

Read more about Best Friends Focus on Felines campaign.

Photos by Molly Wald, Best Friends’ photographer.

[LINK: Best Friends Animal Society; TOP PHOTO: icanhascheezburger.com]

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