They seem to be everywhere, yowling, leaving tracks on cars and wandering around vacant lots.
But with the help of a local nonprofit, there is one thing several thousand stray and feral cats won’t be doing: reproducing.
Benton City’s Prevent Homeless Pets has spayed and neutered more than 30,000 animals since it started seven years ago.
The nonprofit provides low-cost spay and neuter services for stray or feral animals, as well as pets from low-income families and local shelters.
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It has operated on almost 4,000 cats and more than 1,000 dogs this year, numbers that director Harriet Johnson said they couldn’t reach without volunteers and contributors.
The nonprofit is in the middle of its annual Stitch in Time fundraising campaign, which goes through Jan. 15.
It wants to raise $24,000 to get access to a matching amount from other donors.
While the money pays for several basic necessities, it’s also going toward moving into a new building.
For the past four years, it has worked out of a rented store front on Della Avenue, next to Benton City’s town hall.
But a friend of the organization, Sebastian Tindall, left a donation in his will that helped pay for the activity center from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Benton City.
It needs volunteers and donated materials to help convert the building.
The clinic keeps its rates low, especially for feral animals.
It’s $20 to neuter a cat, $30 to spay, far less than a typical cost of $120 or more.
“No one can afford to do that for a feral cat,” Johnson said. “People will say, ‘I can hardly afford that for my cat.’ ”
Word is spreading. Animals are coming in from as far away as Yakima and Pendleton.
Staff added an extra day — it’s open three to four days a week — but appointments are booked out two weeks.
The organization started in 2009 when Johnson, a retired Richland teacher, was heartbroken after a cat she’d bonded with at a shelter was euthanized to make room for several strays that had been dumped in a rural area.
For more information about donations or volunteering, go to preventhomelesspets.org..