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‘God created all animals for a reason’

Woman works to reduce feral cat population

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

Annice Whatley hugs one of the cats her organization, Friends of Felines, has saved. Most of the animals the group traps, sterilizes and releases are feral cats, but those that are not may be adopted.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2015/12/web1_20151219_134335.jpegAnnice Whatley hugs one of the cats her organization, Friends of Felines, has saved. Most of the animals the group traps, sterilizes and releases are feral cats, but those that are not may be adopted.

Melanie Ruberti | Daily News

LaGRANGE — A local woman is hoping families can provide homes to rescued cats.

Annice Whatley traps, spays and neuters stray cats with her organization, the Friends of Felines, which is associated with the Safe Haven Animal Rescue Group.

“I try to socialize them (kittens) if I have time,” Whatley explained. “I use the Friends of Felines donations to spay and neuter them and then try to adopt them out.”

Friends of Felines started in 2006, she said. Since then the organization has trapped, spayed and neutered 600 cats and found homes for 250 of the animals that were healthy and not feral, Whatley said.

“I wait to see if the person and the kitten or cat are compatible,” she explained. “Not everyone wants the same type of cat. They’re all genetically different, just like kids.”

Whatley takes the kittens she finds to local veterinarians to be tested for diseases like feline leukemia and AIDS, plus heart worms.

Whatley said even if the animals are kittens, just associating them with the word “feral” can cause people to turn away.

“Georgia does not have a law to protect feral cats,” Whatley said. “They have a place for dogs … dogs get adopted. But cats are not. Cats are disposable, especially if they’re feral … and that bothers me.”

She said feral cats are usually healthier than domesticated cats — minus vaccinations — because they have to be in good shape to survive in the wild.

Under the Safe Haven rescue group, Friends of Felines receives about $700 in donations per year, which helps about 15 feral cats. Whatley hopes people will be more responsible with their pets.

“Get your cats fixed, get your dogs fixed,” Whatley said. “Our mission (Friends of Felines) is to trap, neuter and spay as many cats as we could and to educate the public.”

Whatley hopes folks will also think twice when adopting a pet and consider a cat or kitten of a different breed to love and give a home.

“These cats are not terminally ill and not diseased,” she said. “God created all animals for a reason.”

Anyone interested in adopting a kitten or donating to the Friends of Felines can call Annice Whatley at 706-882-5311.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.