Susan Halvey, right, serves her vegetarian chili to Fonda resident Lisa Bell Saturday during the Chili Cook-Off fundraiser for Feline Guardian Angels.
Chili cooker Sally Bintz serves her chili to Amsterdam resident Pamela Hartig.
Myra Lampkin, left, and April Miller, right, explain the trapping process for feral cats Saturday during the Chili Cook-Off fundraiser.
By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Feline Guardian Angels kicked off their 2013 fundraising season Saturday and dozens showed up to support.
It was the first time that the trap-neuter-return organization held a Chili Cook-Off at Imperial Lanes in Amsterdam, said Feline Guardian Angels Coordinator Myra Lampkin, and 17 kinds of chili lined the room, each with a different flavor.
From vegetarian chili and sweet bean chili to traditional recipes and kinds with chicken and black beans, the supporters of the organization tried as many as they could, filling out score cards and picking their favorite.
Diane Staber, an FGA supporter, said she got some ideas for her own chili on Saturday, but the real reason she was there was to support an organization that she became introduced to just two years ago.
“I’m here because I have one of the cats,” she said.
Two year ago, during the winter, a male cat came to Staber’s home and once she started feeding him, he stuck around.
He soon was given the name Mugsey.
Though he wasn’t affectionate toward her, Staber, an animal lover at heart with cats of her own, learned about FGA through a friend and called them up to have Mugsey neutered.
Also there sampling the chili was East End resident Laurie Lansing.
Four years ago Lansing had taken in two stray female cats and their kittens. She got the females spayed and tried to find homes for the kittens.
Unable to find homes for them, they became hers.
Lansing said a neighbor not long after that had let all of the cats the neighbor had outside and they all became outdoor cats.
“I worked with Myra before so I called her looking for help because there were like five, six females and if each one had five kittens a piece imagine how many more cats we’re going to be around there,” she said. “Thank god for her. She helped me. We trapped them together and got them all fixed.”
Staber and Lansing are what FGA calls caregivers and that’s just one piece of what the organization makes sure each of the cats and colonies have.
“We trap feral cats in designated locations that always have a source of food, water, shelter, and a caregiver,” Lampkin explained. “That’s mandatory for us.”
There are many colonies of feral cats all throughout the city of Amsterdam that FGA is aware of, she said.
“Last year we completed 148 spay and neuters.”
When someone calls about a colony of cats, or the organization finds out about one, they go down, trap the cats individually, check their gender, and bring them to either Country Valley Veterinary Clinic, Milton Veterinary Clinic, or Montgomery County SPCA’s Prevent Another Litter program to have them spayed or neutered.
“These are invaluable to us, these programs, because they help us with the costs to spay or neuter a cat,” she said.
And the cats are also treated for fleas or ear mites, checked for any other medical condition, and given a one-year rabies vaccination.
“We always send the cat out with the best health designation that they can have because, you know, that’s just we’re all about.”
The newest colony that the small group of volunteers at FGA will be working on is over on State Route 30.
That colony is what Lampkin called a “neighborhood colony” because the neighborhood took it upon themselves to feed them and keep them healthy but called FGA to have the cats spayed or neutered, Lampkin said.
She said that right now it’s time when the female cats are starting to go into their first heat cycle of the year, with a 60- to 65-day gestation period.
Cats can reproduce three litters a year, with five kittens per litter, she said, so right no it’s crucial.
“Trap-neuter-return is ... a community problem,” Lampkin said. “It’s something that we need to be a part of. It’s very important.”
The Chili Cook-Off brought in some funding, but there is always a need for more.
For more information, contact Lampkin at 466-3478.