Paws SOS, a volunteer-only organization, recently picked up a colony of 28 feral cats and kittens to be fixed. Now they need the community’s help.

“There are colonies everywhere,” said Nola Wilkins, volunteer. “We can hardly keep up.”

Wilkins noted the 28 cats were captured in traps that are cleaned twice daily.

The organization traps the cats to get them fixed, eartipped and given a rabies shot. Then the cats are usually released back to the site they were found.

But in this particular case, the 28-cat colony was located on a vacant lot that recently was purchased.

Wilkins said her organization is not able to release the cats due to the construction at that site. So now the organization is looking for barn homes.

“We always need barn homes,” she said, noting that it doesn’t actually have to be a barn. “Just something to get the cats out of the weather.”

For example, a warehouse recently took in a couple of cats. Wilkins said anyone who is willing to provide food, water and some kind of shelter is considered a barn home.

Large Styrofoam coolers also make for a good feral cat condo to stay warm in the weather.

The Pound Pals and St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach organizations pay for the spay and neuter fees of the cats Paws SOS pick up.

Paws SOS take the cats to the Franklin County Animal Medical Center and Protect Every Pet, based in Bland, for their spay and neuter needs.

The volunteer organization also works with the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS) on TNR (trap, neuter and release) efforts.

“We don’t turn the babies back on the street,” Wilkins said. “If we get them young enough to be tamed, then we send them to a rescue.”

Wilkins started TNR efforts about 10 years ago.

“I saw the need and it just kind of boomed,” she said. “They keep multiplying.”

Along with her partner, Diane Slyuter, they are trying to conquer the cat colonies in Franklin County.

“People need to spay and neuter their animals,” she said. “It only takes once for their cat to get out and become pregnant.”

Cats can become pregnant as early as three to four months and can breed two to three times a year.

Wilkins said there are many low-cost options for spaying and neutering, including coupons the Franklin County Humane Society provides and the low prices provided by Barc St. Louis. 

Paws SOS is working to secure its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Currently, the organization just accepts donations. Right now, there is a need for newspaper, cat litter, food, straw and Styrofoam coolers.

Wilkins encourages community members to call FCHS or message her on Facebook if a colony has been found.

“We’ll help as much as we can,” she said.