Ocracoke needs help with cat population explosion
needs good homes, veterinary assistance, and donations to alleviate the
current cat crisis.
Anyone who has visited Ocracoke village knows that cats make up a
significant part of the population here -- and rightly so. The first
cats may have come to Ocracoke with the early settlers and the pirates,
as ratters on their ships, and they continue their duty as ratters
today. Most cottages sport at least one tabby or calico kitty sitting
contentedly on a windowsill or a fence rail, and you’re likely to
find another one curled up inside on the couch.
Along with the pets are a number of feral cats that roam the village.
Cat lovers feed them regularly and try to have them neutered and
spayed. A non-profit organization called Ocracats collects donations to
pay for neutering and food, as well as occasional emergency vet bills.
Cats reproduce rapidly, however, and with few predators to keep them in
check, their numbers can get out of hand. Such is the case now.
The veterinarian who operated a clinic here several days a week,
providing reasonable prices for feral cat neutering, has retired and
moved away. Getting cats up the beach to Nags Head or Manteo is an
all-day operation and an expensive one. There is a veterinarian on duty
on certain days of the week in Avon, but even that is a three-hour
round trip, and there is no one available to shuttle feral cats back
Also, the decline in the economy has reduced donations, so that paying
for food and neutering is a real challenge.
In the past, veterinarians from off the island have, on occasion,
jumped in to help us out, bringing their instruments and medications
and setting up in one of the community buildings. On these occasions
cat lovers all over the village trap feral cats and bring them in for
neutering. The cats are returned to the place where they were captured
and feeding resumes.
Ocracokers provide a place to stay and some good home-cooked or restaurant
meals for the volunteer veterinarians and their assistants, as well as
free time to enjoy the beaches.
Hyde County Animal Control has, in fact, set up such a clinic, and the
veterinary school at North Carolina State University is scheduled to
come to Ocracoke to neuter cats in June.
The island is excited and grateful and looking forward to their help.
The problem is that the cats are breeding and birthing kittens now, and
if we do not have an interim clinic before then, there will be hundreds
If any veterinarians who love Ocracoke and cats are reading this and
can spare a few days to help with a clinic this spring, you will be
To add to our cat crisis, there are presently a number of beautiful,
tame, and loving cats who have been abandoned and desperately need good
homes. There is not enough money or space to care for them, and if
homes are not found soon, they may have to be euthanized.
If you love cats and have always wanted a pirate kitty, please give a
good home to one of the beautiful cats displayed here, or inquire about
If you are not a veterinarian and cannot adopt a cat into
home but still want to help out, please consider making a donation to
Ocracats. You can send a check to Ocracats, P.O. Box 993 Ocracoke NC
27960, or call Pat Garber at (252)928-6765.
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