Local non-profit seeks to decrease Dekalb’s stray cat population

By Ali Combs

In an effort to help quell cat overpopulation and abuse DeKalb resident Jane Kosek set out in 2004 to help solve this problem.

Kosek started Fixin’ Feral Felines as a means to control the stray cat population around her home. The organization originally worked to trap, neuter and return cats to their original environments under the supervision of caretakers who kept the cats fed.

The cat overpopulation problem is especially present in rural areas like DeKalb, Kosek said.

“A lot of times, the students at the end of the semester just throw their cats out,” Kosek said. She is currently fostering ten cats.

Since 2004, Fixin’ Feral Felines has spayed, neutered and vaccinated thousands of feral cats. Over the past few years, the focus of Fixin’ Feral Felines has moved toward offering fixed, vaccinated and tested cats for adoption at a low cost and now adopts cats out under the name Whiskers at Petco, 3853 E. Main St. in St. Charles, and on www.petfinder.com.

According to Kosek, part of the problem is the state of the economy during the last several years. The time and money required by pets isn’t feasible for many people who are struggling to make ends meet, Kosek said. As many animal shelters are full, people release their cats on the outskirts of town, thinking the cats will survive with their animal instincts.

“It doesn’t work like that,” Kosek said. “Most of these breeds have been domesticated.”

Harsh winters create a special need for homes for strays. Earlier this winter, Kosek received a call about a kitten found nearly frozen to death in a snowbank. Kosek was able to nurse the cat to health, followed by fixing, vaccinating and testing it for heartworm, feline immunodeficiency virus and leukemia. The kitten was then put up for adoption at Petco.

“[Kosek] is amazing. She has drastically changed the feral cat population in DeKalb County on her own,” said Kate Blechschmidt, receptionist and kennel support worker at Prairie View Animal Hospital, 24 Rich Road.

Successfully controlling such a serious problem in the area has been no easy task.

“There is an unbelievable amount of work in all of this,” said Susan Kapost, former cat caretaker at Fixin’ Feral Felines.

Kapost has been volunteering for the organization since 2008. According to Kapost, with adoption fees, vaccination, spaying or neutering and testing, the cost of owning a cat is usually about $600 in DeKalb county. The fee for cats offered for adoption by Fixin’ Feral Felines is $130, which includes all of the other services listed.

The organization is always accepting donations and looking for volunteers to help manage a clean environment for the cats being fostered and aided.

Kosek urges cat owners to spay and neuter their cats if they are not prepared to care for and find permanent homes for a litter. She said Tails Humane Society, 2250 Barber Greene Road, offers a low-cost spay and neuter program to the community.