This is the tale of a cat with many names.
Tigger, Stubby or just plain Kitty gets more visits than most people on Facebook.
From his vantage point – a humble abode constructed of straw bales and tarp – he eyes patrons at the Town & Country Restaurant, listens to the 100,000 vehicles traversing West Kellogg each day just yards from his perch, and offers an occasional long and trusted friend a rare chance at petting him.
He won’t pay attention to strangers and suspicious characters.
But sometimes it takes a village to befriend a cat, and this ginger-colored fellow has a community of Town & Country patrons.
This is the third year Jenny Dodge Warren has taken care of her beloved Stubby – so named for his mangled stub of a tail. She is the one who provided him the straw bales and tarp, and who occasionally tries to doctor the cat’s tail.
“It (his tail) was broke when I first started kitty care-taking for him,” she said. “At one point, there were five or six other cats with him but Friends of Feline trapped them all and got their rabies shots, spayed or neutered, then returned them back.”
Stubby is the only one of that group of cats remaining. Dodge Warren said she already has four cats at home and another four she is fostering.
Town & Country owner Larry Conover said he’s aware of several people – mostly women – who stop and care for the cat.
Cheryl Taskinen, president of Friends of Felines, estimates Tigger or Stubby may be one of 100,000 feral cats living in Wichita. Sunday is National Feral Cat Day and her organization is observing the day by hosting an open house at the Kansas Humane Society beginning at 2 p.m. at 3313 N. Hillside.
Because the city doesn’t issue licenses for cats, the exact feline population in Wichita is uncertain, said Melissa Houston, director of marketing and communications at the Kansas Humane Society. What is known is that in 2015, the Kansas Humane Society had 3,655 cat adoptions. Beyond that, 755 cats were sent to rescue and 367 were returned to their owners – meaning 4,777 cats found homes or continued to live.
So far this year, the Humane Society has 4,297 cats, found homes for 3,432 homes and had to euthanize more than 800 cats.
“The majority of cats we are unable to save are preemie kittens and feral cats,” Houston said in an e-mail to The Eagle. “We recently started a barn cat program to help those feral cats we previously wouldn’t have been able to help.”
So far this year, Taskinen said Friends of Felines has helped spay or neuter nearly 700 cats.
“The biggest problem we have is people who are irresponsible; who get a free kitten off of Craigslist and don’t spay or neuter and then kick it outside,” Taskinen said.
She said her group is asking the Wichita City Council to consider a trap, neuter and return ordinance.
“If we did that, that would put an end to our population of (stray or feral) kittens,” Taskinen said.
Tigger – aka Stubby or Kitty – is a survivor.
“A lot of times these cats know where their safe spots are – where they can hide, places they can stay warm,” Taskinen said.
But it gets harder as the weather starts to turn from summer to fall, then winter. Taskinen recommends care-giving people offer feral cats – in addition to food and water – some dry and warm shelter, saying it can be as simple as foam coolers filled with dry straw that have holes cut in their sides for the cats to enter.
Connie Tibbits said she began calling the Town & Country cat Tigger whenever she takes food to it.
Her husband is allergic to cats. He’ll keep the car running while she pets it and makes sure it has plenty of food.
“I don’t want it to starve and with winter coming on, I’ve just become real concerned for him,” she said.
Some of the servers from Town & Country offer the cat scraps, she said.
“The thing has had a rough time,” she said. “It is just scared, bless his heart.
“I’m so glad there is somebody else helping to take care of this cat. I feel sorry for stray animals. There sure are bunches of cats all over that need homes.”
To help a cat
To find out more about the Kansas Humane Society’s Barn Cat Program go to www.kshumane.org/animals/barn-cat.php
The Humane Society always has cats to adopt. Adult cats are free – and that includes spay-neuter surgery, microchip, vaccinations, flea and tick treatment and a bag of food. The cost of adopting a kitten can range from $99 to $30. The price currently is $30 because there are more kittens in the summer and fall months. Currently, the Humane Society is offering buy one, get one free adoptions because there are so many kittens needing homes.
Contact the Humane Society at 316-524-9196.