Program reduces Carroll County's farm cat population
Carroll County’s Operation CatSnip has trapped, neutered, and released more than 1,075 farm cats since March 2015 and the flourishing volunteer organization will be featured on Maryland Public Television's “Maryland Farm & Harvest” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28.
“There’s severe overpopulation of cats in Carroll County, especially on farms,” said Joanna Spencer, the organization’s co-founder. “We want to keep the populations low to help keep the Humane Society of Carroll County’s populations low.”
According to an MPT news release, each week “Maryland Farm & Harvest” takes viewers on a journey across the state, telling stories about the farms, people and technology required to sustain and grow Maryland’s No. 1 industry: agriculture. Approximately 4 million viewers have tuned in to “Maryland Farm & Harvest” since its fall 2013 debut. The series has taken MPT viewers to more than 200 farms during its first four seasons, covering every Maryland county, as well as Baltimore City and Washington, D.C.
Sarah Sampson, the series’ producer and director, said she included Operation CatSnip on the program because the organization “has a really interesting premise.”
“They’re working cats and necessary on farms to keep rodents under control. They’re important to the farm’s ecosystem,” Sampson said. “I think it will be of interest to our viewers and a story that’s a little bit different than what we normally feature.”
Funds for the initiative come from the Humane Society of Carroll County. Acting Director Karen Baker said donations from Scientific Plant Service and Carol Coley have funded the most recent rounds of the program.
Spencer, of Westminster, explained that the farm cats are trapped and transported to a nearby veterinarian who specializes in spaying and neutering. After the procedure, each cat’s ear is tipped to indicate the operation has been done. They also get rabies shots before being released back to their respective farms.
“I love animals,” Spencer said. “We all need a hobby, and I like the idea of helping people out. The farmers are so appreciative, and it makes me feel good to do something to help society.”
Operation CatSnip trapped 27 cats at Char-Jan Enterprises in New Windsor last year. Jan Stambaugh, the farm’s owner, said they’ve always had “gobs and gobs of kittens.”
“We buy 40-pound bags of dry cat food a week to feed the cats,” Stambaugh said. “We don’t have mice issues. Mice can contaminate the feed and make the grain’s grade lower, so no mice is a good thing.
“This spring we had no kittens, so Operation CatSnip was successful. I recommend them to other farmers because they make it so easy and convenient. They have all the necessary tools and can do several at a time.”
Operation CatSnip co-founder Donna Babylon, of New Windsor, said her favorite part is “letting them go.”
“You know they’re going to be healthier and happier,” Babylon said.