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Stray, feral cats need some TLC, too: Despite the fickle weather we’ve come to tolerate at the Lake of the Ozarks, spring is a time of rebirth. First, it’s daffodils, then the ponds and lake come alive with spring peepers, dogwoods bloom and we’re finally sprinkled with oak pollen dust as our trees sprout their seasonal leaves. It’s also birthing season for feral and stray cats. Yes, there are homeless cats that roam the streets. Cats wandering around are not uncommon, especially in the area of The Strip where there is a constant source of food. They can sometimes be a pest, but most often they’re looking for food and some TLC. Not to be alarmed. They have their place in the food chain. According to the website Ally Cat Allies, feral, stray and pet cats are all members of the same species; they are all domestic cats. But stray cats and feral cats are also different from each other in a very important way — in their relationship to and interactions with people. Whether you are a shelter worker, veterinarian, or feral cat advocate — or you just share your neighborhood with feral cats — knowing how to tell the difference can help inform how best to interact with a cat or what, if any, intervention would be in each cat’s best interest. A “socialized” cat is one that is friendly towards people—or cats that enjoy companionship with us in our homes.  Kittens becomes socialized by interacting with people—being held, spoken to, and played with—from an early age. If a kitten does not become accustomed to people holding her and petting her within this crucial window, she will grow up apprehensive of humans and will not be suited to or happy living in homes.  What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?  Pet and stray cats are socialized to people.  Feral cats are not socialized to people. While they are socialized to their colony members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people.  A stray cat is a cat that has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence. Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.  Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people.  Again, don’t be alarmed if you see a cat or cats hanging around The Strip. They are hungry and they may want to be your friend. Ideally, cats should be neutered to help curb overpopulation. If you decide to bring a stray or feral cat into your home, or under your care, make sure you have him or her neutered. Contact any of a number of veterinarians, Dogwood Animal Shelter, Ozark Kats and K9 Shelter, Blue Moon Sanctuary or others. To learn more about feral and stray cats, click on https://bit.ly/3twDcdH.         

TEST TW WEATHER

COVID-19 picture continues to improve in Lake area

Good news on the COVID-19 front for Miller, Morgan and Camden counties.

The Camden County Health Department, the Miller County Health Center and the Morgan County Health Center are reporting that there have not been any recent spikes in new positive COVID-19 cases with currently about 50 active cases despite fears the lake area would see an increase after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Lake Ozark and a busier-than-normal spring retail scene. 

But the agencies say we shouldn’t relax our guard remind everyone to continue COVID-19 spread mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing for unvaccinated populations to keep our communities safe and healthy.

The three counties combined have reported 8,142 confirmed cases with 174 COVID-19 related deaths since officials began keeping records in March 2020.

While many in our community are being vaccinated, not everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet, so we need to continue to be cautious. 

The health departments encourage everyone to be vaccinated, especially the high-risk populations. Since much of our economy is driven by tourism, they also see the importance of prioritizing those working in the service industry. Even if younger people are not as likely to get severely ill, they can still transmit it to the vulnerable. These residents are exposed to hundreds of people every day from all over the country here to enjoy our beautiful lake, so it makes sense for them to protect themselves against COVID-19 infection which will reduce their family and friend’s risk too.

The Lake Area’s three public health departments continue to work with local and state health officials to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. The State of Missouri released recently that those in Phase 2 became eligible for vaccine on March 29 and Phase 3 will become eligible on April 9. Visit covidvaccine.mo.gov to view the State’s phase and tier priority list and to register for potential vaccination clinics. The vaccine is free and can be obtained at many locations in central Missouri.

The agencies recommend businesses to adopt policies requiring the use of masks by their unvaccinated staff. Especially those employees that cannot distance themselves from co-workers and customers such as employees at restaurants, bars, gas docks, and salons. 

For more information for fully vaccinated people, visit CDC’s site: https://www.cdc.gov/…/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.