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A few furry friends at Londonderry’s municipal building: Cats find a home

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/8/20

Every morning when Angie Evans arrives at the Londonderry Township Municipal Building, where she works as an administrative assistant, she’s greeted by a gray cat she named Gracie.

Gracie …

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A few furry friends at Londonderry’s municipal building: Cats find a home

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Every morning when Angie Evans arrives at the Londonderry Township Municipal Building, where she works as an administrative assistant, she’s greeted by a gray cat she named Gracie.

Gracie is one of the feral cats that lives outside of the municipal building. Gracie runs up to Evans’ car in the morning and walks her into work. Evans even cared for her after she was taken to a veterinarian after a tick became embedded in her neck.

The cats have lived around the municipal building since before Evans started working for the township about six years ago. Gracie is her favorite.

“It takes time to win their trust because now they actually let me pet them, which wasn’t always the case in the beginning. They just would run away. But now I’ve really gotten to love them. They deserve to be taken care of,” Evans said.

When Evans started at the township, there were only a few cats, but Evans said over the years more cats began to appear, including three kittens. There is no definitive count on how many are at the building, but it is likely more than a half-dozen.

In the morning, the cats greet township staff for breakfast. Later in the afternoon, they come out again for dinner.

All of the staff works together to care for the cats. Township staff will pitch in to buy the cats food, and the man who cleans the office feeds them on the weekend. Evans let another cat recuperate in a crate in her house when she broke her leg.

One of the volunteers with V.I.P., the van service for senior township residents, had a friend build a shelter for the cats. The shelter is filled with straw and located in the back of the building.

One of the kittens passed away, but Evans named the other two. The orange kitten she named Butchie, and the gray one she called Gracie.

Gracie has stayed outside the municipal building for two years.

“She’s just adorable,” Evans said.

One day, Evans came into work and saw that Gracie was bleeding on her chest.

“I couldn’t really treat her because I was afraid that she wouldn’t come near me, but I ended up taking her to my vet,” she said.

The vet told Evans that a tick had become embedded, and Gracie scratched herself trying to get it out. Township staff pitched in to cover Gracie’s vet bill.

But until she got better, Gracie stayed at Evans’ house for a couple of days.

“I didn’t even like cats when I started here,” Evans said.

Gracie had a cone on her head after treatment. Evans said the cat would let her two dogs know if they got too close.

“She was pretty good. She would sit on my lap, but she was anxious to get back to her surroundings. So the minute I brought her back here, she took off,” Evans said.

When staff members see new feral cats, they call a woman who is active in the trap, neuter, return community. She traps the cat and takes them to get spayed and neutered at York County SPCA before returning them back near the building. The Nobody’s Cats Foundation also has been called in years past.

Humane Society of Harrisburg Area has a contract with Londonderry Township, said Executive Director Amy Kaunas.

The humane society performs spaying and neutering and offers trap and neuter vouchers for feral cats in the township. They can be picked up in the township office.

Township manager Steve Letavic said the township is allotted a specific number of vouchers, and if it exceeds the allotment, then the township pays for more. In the past, Londonderry has exceeded its number of vouchers.

It’s part of a strategy called trap, neuter and return. Londonderry also gives out animal surrender forms for adoptable, friendly cats and dogs.

“It’s a humane way to manage the outdoor cat population,” Kaunas said.

She explained that an outdoor cat population could get out of control and lead to a nuisance or animal cruelty.

The humane society, Kaunas said, tends to advocate for trap, neuter and returning because animal rescues and shelters can’t place every cat and the options may be to either euthanize the cats or trap, neuter and return.

Evans said sometimes kittens just appear.

The cats are ear-tipped, which Evans said lets staff know that cat has already been taken care of.

She doesn’t know where the cats come from, although she hopes people aren’t dumping them.

“That’s the big thing about getting them spayed and neutered, that they can’t reproduce and keep the population down,” Evans said.