POCATELLO, Idaho (KXPI) - Pocatello has a feral cat problem, according to one local woman. But a group of volunteers has stepped up to help.
Nancy Cheadle of Bannock Feral Friends said the cats are part of our community and we are all responsible for their welfare. Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz wanted to find out the mission of BFF and to Pay It Forward.
"And they can start having kittens as young as four months old," said Cheadle, referring to a cat by a chain-linked fence nearby. Cheadle said when kittens start having kittens, the situation can easily get out of control.
"We average about 60 cats a month and that number seems to grow every month," said Cheadle. She said the Pocatello Animal Shelter used to provide TNR services. That stands for trapping, neutering and releasing. However, the shelter discontinued the service in the spring of 2001, according to Cheadle. She said the need didn't go away. So in July 2021, she and two others decided to form Bannock Feral Friends.
"We humanely trap cats. We get them fixed. We return them to their territory, if possible. And then we have a colony caretaker who provides the food and water for them," said Cheadle. She said a cat can have three to four litters per year. She said many of the cats start out as domesticated and then get abandoned, but after generations of breeding, it becomes a growing problem for the city. She added when kittens are born, they are exposed to the elements, predators, and disease. She said the goal of Bannock Feral Friends is to get the feral cat population stabilized and under control.
"We are constantly getting calls about colonies that people have been feeding and that have grown out of control," said Cheadle.
The group has seven feeding stations scattered throughout the city of Pocatello. They consist of a couple shelters, so the cats can get out of the elements. A provider will put in fresh food and water once a week. The group is looking for volunteers to be colony caretakers.
Other volunteers have helped. The Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter has stepped up to help with some funding. The Bannock Humane Society has given the group cat vouchers at a reduced cost. And BFF works with some great veterinarians, according to Cheadle.
"That allows us to do what we're doing. Otherwise, we would not be able to financially support this."
Time to Pay It Forward.
"Nancy, how are you?" said a man walking up to the interview and interrupting.
"Hi. Good," replied Cheadle.
"Good. I'm Kory (Carling) with Mountain America Credit Union," said the man.
"Oh," said Cheadle, a bit confused.
"And we're here today because of what you're doing in your community and we're here to Pay It Forward," said Carling.
"Oh," said Cheadle.
"So I've brought with me today, $500 in cash," said Carling, taking cash out of an envelope.
"Oh my gosh! OK," said Cheadle.
"That I know you can put to good use," continued Carling.
"Yes, that will fix a lot of cats!" said Cheadle.
"Yeah, and to put that to good use for those cats and find new homes for them," said Carling.
"Yeah," said Cheadle.
"And continue to touch the hearts of many others just like myself, as an animal lover. So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union," said Carling, handing over the cash.
"Thank you so much!" said Cheadle.
"We'd like to Pay It Forward for all that you do for the community and continue your generosity," said Carling.
"Oh, thank you so much. Thank you," replied Cheadle.
"Thank you for all that you do," said Carling.
"That's such a blessing and thank you," said Cheadle.
"You're welcome," said Carling.
"Well, that was very unexpected," said Cheadle, laughing.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.