Jennifer Tergin and Jackie Fischer believe they likely have prevented thousands of feral cats from being born.
Tergin and Fischer are the founders of Wild Thing - Feral Feline Fix, a non-profit local organization that traps, neuters and returns feral cats to where they were found.
"There's a really huge need for this," Tergin said. "We've prevented I don't know how many thousands of kittens."
The issue with feral cats, Tergin and Fischer say, is that they can breed two or three times per year, multiplying the feral cat population when there aren't enough homes to take them in. Many people leave out food for stray cats, Tergin said, but begin to panic when the strays multiply.
Tergin said she began trapping cats to have them fixed before returning them to their area when she saw a constant stream of cats eating out of the trash behind Madison's Cafe.
Fischer said she was doing the same thing after discovering a waitress at a local bistro had been feeding stray cats, but wasn't sure what to do when more and more cats were arriving.
"I've always been an animal lover," Fischer said. "It's just heartbreaking to see these kittens and cats scrounging for food."
The two paired up through the Friends of the Jefferson City Animal Shelter and decided to work together to help curb the feral cat population. They worked out arrangements with two local veterinarians and work through evenings and weekends trapping cats and bringing them to be spayed or neutered.
The two, working with another friend, originally split all the vet bills, but once they had fixed about 40 cats realized they couldn't afford to do it all themselves. Now, Wild Thing accepts donations, which Tergin said solely go to pay for surgeries and are not used to cover costs of traps, food or gas to transport cats to and from the vet.
Tergin and Fischer say they would like to see Jefferson City or the animal shelter begin to take on some of the responsibility for a trap-neuter-return program, which will cut down on the feral cat population over time.
Tergin gave the example of feral cats in Washington Park. Though there used to be more around 15 to 20 feral cats in the area, since using the trap-neuter-return program, there are only about seven or eight left, she said.
"It works," Tergin said. "We've proven it."
Tergin and Fischer said they take photos of the cats they've trapped, more than 430 since they started in 2010, and post them on their Facebook page, which has proven to be a popular feature. Tergin said they originally wanted to average 100 cats per year, but have fixed 70 since May alone.
Both say they want people who are taking care of strays or feral cats to give them a call so the cats can be fixed.
But they do not take cats in need of homes.
Tergin said Wild Thing returns cats to the areas they were trapped in and does not provide homes for any cats.