CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If Kanawha/Charleston Animal Shelter Director Chelsea Staley sometimes feels like she's herding cats, it's probably because she is.
On Monday, the animal shelter was home to 65 cats, which for Staley is something of a record low. Two weeks ago, there were 122.
The good news is, animal shelter staff are no longer automatically euthanizing any cat that comes through the door.
"We're euthanizing sick cats only at this point," said Staley, who took over as animal shelter director over the summer. "We have not euthanized a single feral cat since Sept. 1."
Instead, shelter staff are concentrating on a program to trap and sterilize wild and semi-wild cats and release them back out into the environment to live out their lives.
Shelter staff held a workshop Monday evening to talk about ways to humanely trap cats and ways to reduce their effects on neighborhoods. The workshop was run by Alley Cat Allies, a national cat advocacy group.
Staley said cats live an average of only three years in the wild, where they die of natural causes or succumb to disease, predators or accidents. Although wild cat populations can never be completely eliminated, scientific studies have shown that neuter and release programs decrease feral cat populations by 36 percent over two years and by 66 percent over a period of 11 years, she said.