The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

February 4, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Feral felines treated friendly in Carthage

JOPLIN, Mo. — Residents help wild cats find their place in the city

I wanted to change gears this week and bring a little local color to the column. I'm still learning about the wonderful things that pet advocates have done in the area that go above and beyond normal volunteering, and I'll highlight their efforts when I find out about them.

I discovered what some Carthage residents have done to address the issue of feral cats in their town. If you aren't familiar with that term, feral cats are those that have been born and raised in the wild, or cats that have been released and have turned wild to survive.

It's not an easy life. The life expectancy of these cats is usually only a couple of years. Feral cats are in almost every town and can become a nuisance if the problem is not addressed. They crowd shelters, which can do little for them because in most cases these cats aren't adoptable. Many of them will be euthanized.

That situation changed in Carthage in 2010, thanks to some dedicated people. The results have been beneficial for both the cats and the townspeople.

With a push from feline advocacy group Spare Cat Rescue, laws were changed in Carthage to establish feral cat colonies that are managed by registered caregivers.

Carthage resident Kaylene Cole is one of the founders of Spare Cat Rescue. She was instrumental in changing the city's laws to accommodate the people who feed feral cats and how the cats are taken care of inside the city.

"The best way we could help feral cats was by keeping them out of the shelters," Cole said. "The way the laws have changed has kept them alive, kept them fed and kept them out of harm's way, while also keeping their population in check."

Now, when a feral cat is picked up by animal control, it is spayed or neutered, given shots and marked by clipping its ear, so they can be identified. They are then released back into a specific colony. This breaks their breeding cycle and keeps them out of shelters.

Former Carthage City Councilman Bill Welsh said that since the program's inception in early 2010, there has been a giant drop in euthanasia for these cats.

"We worked hand in hand with the police to change the laws here," Welsh said. "We didn't want people to get in trouble for trying to do the humane thing in feeding these animals and not wanting to see them go to a shelter where their lives will most likely end. Since this program started, the kill rate has dropped dramatically."

Welsh also said that these cats help keep the rodent population down in the community.

"Keeping vermin down can help the community, but the cat population needs to be kept in check, too," Welsh said. "If this wasn't in place, the cat numbers would keep growing and growing, and their food would be even more scarce."

Spare Cat Rescue tries to help feral cats while they are still young, so the cats can be adopted. The program does monthly adoption drives at local Petsmart stores to find homes for the kittens.

"If they are socialized early enough, they can be put in homes," Welsh said. "They can make great pets if they don't turn feral."

Spare Cat Rescue runs completely on donations and grants. For more information or to donate, visit the group's blog at The website also lists upcoming events in the area.

I want to thank those of you who have taken your time to email me stories about your animals. I am working hard to find a way to include your tales in my future stories. I have been reading them all, and I appreciate your interest in my column.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at or 417-627-7363.

Text Only
Globe Life
  • 041314_cj glass1.jpg Carl Junction students create projects, win awards at national contest with glass arts

    The students are part of a new glass arts class at Carl Junction High School taught by Jessica Sellars, a graduate of the school who earned her bachelor's degree from Missouri Southern State University and her masters of art education from Pittsburg State University. The art teacher taught for 20 years at Coronado High School, located in Henderson, Nev.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: K-9 unit receives protection from donors

    I know I write a lot about pet advocacy in this column, but for a moment, I want to write about pet heroes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_032123610 Patty Crane: Reporter's mea culpa found in identity theft

    As I was browsing the library's list of new materials for March, "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa" by Michael Finkel caught my attention.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_312124454 Linda Cannon: Gardening book helps plan for spring

    In springtime, many of us think of gardening, so, come snow or sleet or whatever, it's time to get into those gardening books and see what improvements can be made to our yards (or decks or patios if that's all you have).

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: Pet deposits legal in Missouri, vary by state

    Building upon last week's column about what goes into moving and renting with pets, I wanted to touch on something that I wasn't too sure a lot of people were familiar with. I had a few people ask me about the legalities of a pet deposit and how it applies to residents in Missouri.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website allows access to news archives

    Between 1982 and 2011, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress worked together to develop a program called "Chronicling America." Each year, NEH gave monetary awards to institutions in various states to digitize 100,000 pages of old newspapers that relate to each state's history.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 040214 LIFE barbershop2_c.jpg Barbershop choirs grow in popularity thanks to singing TV shows, pop culture

    Singers call it the "angel's voice." The phenomenon occurs when a group of singers reach an identical chord, voices blended together as one, the harmonics justly tuned and balanced, creating a new frequency of sound that can "literally raise up the hair on the arm," said Don Snow.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Berries were big business in Southwest Missouri history

    Recently, I noticed some blooms on my strawberry plants on the patio, and I was reminded of my youth in the Ozarks when children often earned money by picking strawberries in the fields of local farmers. I, along with my sisters, brother and all the other children in the area, looked forward to the experience each summer.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo


Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest