TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — With a large number of feral cats living in Tuscaloosa, one group in the Druid City is working hand in hand with the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter to safely reduce and manage the population.

Thomas Sahm with the shelter said there are thousands of feral cats in downtown Tuscaloosa, but that the numbers have been decreasing thanks to a program called “TSNIP,” or the Tuscaloosa Spay and Neuter Initiative.  

“They have caretakers for colonies of cats and they get those cats fixed and they conduct a program called ‘TNR,’ which stands for Trap, Neuter and Release,” Sahm said.

Hope Burnham, a cat owner who lives downtown, supports what’s being done to reduce the feral cat population.

“I don’t think they are a problem right now as long as the population is monitored,” Burnham said. “I’ve never had any issues with them and making sure they are not overpopulating is important and TSNIP is a good program to  have.”

Animal shelter officials say the program not only reduces the cat population, but is helping the cats.  

“Before TSNIP, sadly, if a feral cat came into the shelter we would have to euthanize the cat. But now when a feral cat comes into the shelter, TSNIP comes in and gets the cat and takes it to a local vet and gets it fixed and then releases it back into the managed colony,” Sahm said.

Sahm and others told CBS 42 that the feral cat population has grown so much because many of the cats were abandoned by pet owners. In 2013, the Tuscaloosa City Council passed an ordinance allowing TSNIP to trap and neuter feral cats.