A Maryville resident is using their passion for animals to help the stray and feral cats in town.
In December 2018, Jami Hull founded T-N-R Maryville, a non-profit program that focuses on rehabilitating feral cats and controlling their population by trapping the cats, spaying or neutering them and then returning them to where they were trapped from or placing them up for adoption.
Hull said she has always had a love for cats, and that love is what helped her to establish the program.
“I went to school to be a cat behaviorist. So, I work with people inside their homes with their problematic cats,” Hull said. “And what I learned along the way, through my career, is that there are a lot of problems outside of the home with ferals and strays. So, that is why I created the trap-neuter-return, to help those who didn’t have a home or someone to help them.”
Hull said she mainly works with the Nodaway Vet Clinic to spay or neuter the cats. Once that has been done, the cats will either be released back to the location they were trapped from, sent to a new location or be placed up for adoption.
Hull said she is working with the Nodaway County Humane Society to find homes for some of the cats she rescued. To date, the humane society has taken in four cats that Hull rescued.
“How I do that is I screen them (the cats) when I trap them. I look for cats that are feral or if I feel like they have qualities that could be tamable,” Hull said. “Then from there, I bring them here (to her home) for a few weeks to kind of adjust to being inside, and then they can go to their new homes.”
Hull has 10 adoptable cats in her home that are being rehabilitated and three cats of her own. Hull’s bedroom back wall has two cages stacked on top of each other with mature cats in them. The wall adjacent to this has two more stacked cages with kittens in them.
When Hull walks into her bedrooms, the cats began to meow, rubbing their faces against the bars of the cages.
Hull’s three cats roam the house freely, one is a small, orange tabby kitten that Hull rescued who stays near to her. Since starting the T-N-R program, she has helped over 50 cats.
Hull said she is the main person who runs the program but does have some donors and volunteers.
Maryville resident Skye Pournazari has worked with Hull, helping to create flyers and trap cats. Pournazari said she is working to create a calendar focusing on the cats Hull has rescued, to help raise money for the program.
“These are local cats that have had various issues, and most of them are fairly young kittens,” Pournazari said. “I'll go with her sometimes to some locations and take some pictures, or she will send me pictures of those kittens kind of once they've been cleaned up a bit and are a little less rowdy.”
Pournazari said the calendar is going to feature a short story about the cats and how Hull rescued them as well as the name Hull has given them.
Although Hull gets help occasionally, she said she handles the bulk of the work.
“It makes for some long nights, and it takes a lot. I use my personal van to take them back and forth and release them, so it stinks because they are feral cats and they are scared,” Hull said. “It takes quite a bit of my personal time, but I enjoy it.”
Pournazari said she can tell how dedicated and passionate Hull is.
“Her van is, I've seen it quite messy from these cats, and I know that's a chore to clean,” Pournazari said. “But it's something she cares about a lot.”
Hull said one of her favorite parts about the T-N-R program is being able to watch the cats grow and find new homes.
“My first cat as a child was a stray, and he needed some TLC, and it was great watching the outcome,” Hull said. “One of my favorite parts about the trap-neuter-return is the feral cats that I can work with and then watch as they are given a new life when they are adopted out.”
While the main goal of the program is to help the cats and rehabilitate them, Hull said she also hopes she can teach people about feral cats and the T-N-R program.
“People always think there is nothing they can do about it because they are ferals or strays, but they can definitely do a lot,” Hull said. “So, my goal is to educate people and kind of kick their compassion to want to help in gear.”
Pournazari echoed Hull saying she hopes that the program brings awareness of the issue to Maryville.
“It's not a large city issue. It's an anywhere issue, and most of all, Maryville has this problem,” Pournazari said. “She's trying to tackle it, and it is really good for the city and the cats themselves.”