Abby Witt Editor
The Feral Feline Recycling Limited project has a mission to rehabilitate feral cats in colonies in and around Floyd County and to raise awareness of the nationwide pet dumping pandemic.
Susan “Cat” Bridges started the project around 2015, after returning to the area from Wisconsin, where she worked in a wildlife rehabilitation business.
Bridges bought food from Slaughters for cats in the Dumpsters, she said, and that was the beginning. She is the only one working on the project.
Bridges said the bridges currently run about 45 miles a day and work with about a dozen colonies, that’s more than 200 cats.
There are colonies in Floyd, Patrick, Henry, Montgomery, Carroll, and Wythe County with a looser “dependent” colony.
“There is an elastic flow of cats in and out of all the colonies,” Bridges said.
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They operate 24/7 in any conditions to care for domestic wild cats and “recycle” them into adoptable pets or work companions.
Bridges said the majority of Floyd County’s colonies are located near the Green Box sites.
Recently there has been an increase in pregnant house cats being euthanized in project colonies, Bridges said, putting the cat in a very stressful and dangerous situation. Many kittens died in labor and even more kittens were killed by the beast during childbirth.
Bridges said many of the animals may have been adopted during the height of the pandemic, and now that everyone is busier, pet owners are abandoning them, unfixed, into the wild, where they can’t fend for themselves.
“It’s not just cats,” Bridges said. She said people throw away birds, dogs, hamsters, snakes, rabbits — “any and all” pets.
Stray care, pet adoptions, and independent operations everywhere are feeling the stress of the pet dumping pandemic.
Volunteers at the Floyd County Animal Shelter reported in September that 10 dogs were littered around the city. All homes or nurseries were found within about three days.
Bridges said stray confinement at the Stewart animal shelter has recently decreased from five days to two, and workers are coming to “boxes of puppies and kittens” that are euthanized daily.
FFRPL rehabilitates cats in their colonies with the goal of placing them in new homes, including farms and stores, where they can use their rat skills. They also feed, monitor, and communicate with each colony to improve the animals’ chances of long life and finding a permanent home.
Bridges said more than 100 cats within the colonies are ready for new homes or nursery, including 12 domesticated mother cats and 28 currently living with her.
She said at least one of the mother cats was dumped right on Bridges’ property, adding that she just missed getting the truck’s license plate.
The Shotgun, a weeks-old all-black cat whose life was saved by the efforts of the FFRPL, is training to be an emotionally supportive animal and goes almost everywhere with Bridges, she said.
The cat was named because of its place in the car, and it has its own followers on Floyd and on social media. She is currently in leash training.
Bridges’ relationship with wild animals is a “gift from God.” She said that all the glory of her efforts goes to him, and she leans on him when she encounters some of the worst in humanity in abandoned and hungry cats.
FFRPL is working on Bridges coin and some contributions from community members who support her work.
Bridges applied for official nonprofit status in the summer of 2020 and tried to track progress, without success, she said, limiting access to nonprofit funding and awarding funds.
Bridges said the pet food shortage in the spring of 2022 and subsequent price hikes have put an enormous strain on FFRPL’s efforts. Food is one of the biggest needs, whether dry or canned.
“Feeding 200 cats a day is not cheap,” Bridges said.
Community partnerships, including a discounted rate at the Mountain View Humane Society for Sterilization and Vitality Disposal ($41), help meet specific needs but do not participate in the day-to-day wild care of FFRPL.
There is a donor account at Floyd Weiner Hospital Animal Care Clinic, which the public can donate to FFRPL’s Floyd colonies, and there is a PayPal fundraiser called “Feral Feline Recycling Project, Limited,” Bridges said.
Medicare donor account funds are used as needed and managed by the vet’s office for added security and assurance.
Bridges said at least one of the two recent deaths in the colonies occurred due to a lack of medical funding for a severe eye infection.
Veterinarian Dr. Meredith McGrath of ACC provided lifesaving emergency care for FFRPL cats, which was made possible thanks to a donor account.
Bridges has launched several fundraising initiatives, incentivizing Take a Cat for Dinner, which encourages members of the community to eat at home instead of going out for two nights each month. A $6 donation to FFRPL helps Bridges buy food. Donations are also used for medicine and supplies, such as trash and paper towels.
Bridges said on the fundraising page at https://bit.ly/FFRPL1.
Bridges noted that Farm House in Floyd (311 E. Main Street) is also a donor seller of drugs.
Slaughter Supermarket is the first and largest supporter of FFRPL. Bridges said the owners and staff have always been supportive of her work.
The store will take FFRPL orders and phone payments to pick up Bridges, and they also have gift cards that can be used to purchase necessary items.
Sloters Supermarket is located at 512 Floyd Highway S. Call (540) 745-9876 to place an order for a Bridges pickup by phone.
Updates about FFRPL’s needs are posted publicly on Facebook by Bridges’ “Cat Balue” profile. Search “Feral Feline Recycling Project Limited” on the website to find out more.
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