Number of Feral Cats in Rehoboth Has Plummeted

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Assistance needed to locate stray kitten still on the loose

With the help of dedicated volunteers, mostly Bob Harrison and Marcia Maldeis, the feral cat problem in Rehoboth Beach today is almost nonexistent.

For years, feral or “community” cats have been taken from Rehoboth Beach to be neutered and then returned to the wild as part of the city’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. The program operates at no cost to city residents and has been funded by an annual fundraiser on the Rehoboth boardwalk in September for the Brandywine Valley SPCA (BV-SPCA), which provides the veterinary services.

Over the years, Harrison says he has taken care of hundreds of these cats. But the number has drastically fallen as they had hoped when the TNR program was implemented more than 20 years ago. “TNR worked,” Harrison points out, as there are only a few feral cats left in the city.

Harrison and Maldeis are both charter members of the city’s Animal Issues Committee. An important part of the story, says Comm. Richard Byrne, who chairs the committee, is how the city partners with the BV-SPCA to trap-neuter-release or put up for adoption feral and/or abandoned cats.

The city’s TNR program has been so successful, Harrison says, only one cat so far this year needed to be taken to be neutered. That cat had given birth to four kittens at the home of Katherine and Daniel O’Leary here on Sussex Street this summer.

Image courtesy Daniel O’Leary

“I contacted Rehoboth government online and received inadequate information by email,” Daniel O’Leary said. He replied to the email and copied Mayor Paul Kuhns and Sharon Lynn, the city manager. The following morning Comm. Byrne called him after Mayor Kuhns had urged him to offer assistance. “I should note,” O’Leary points out, “that Richard personally visited my property, coordinated with Bob and kept me well informed.”

Interestingly enough, the BV-SPCA was closed for the weekend when they had captured the mother. So Mayor-Elect Stan Mills ended up driving her to a vet in Seaford. The mother was then neutered and released. Three of her kittens were put up for adoption. But one kitten remains on the loose, last seen on Grove Street. It is a tuxedo much like its sibling shown here.

Image courtesy Bob Harrison

Harrison says he would like to catch it before it becomes feral. Please email him if you see it.

Photos courtesy Daniel O’Leary and Bob Harrison