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Christine and Ron: TNVR Heroes

Updated: May 11



Christine (Chris) and Ron Brounshidle, retired residents of Buffalo, have become local heroes for their dedicated efforts in caring for community cats through TNVR: Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return.

 

“We’re partners in crime in this project,” Chris laughs, adding, when asked about being an expert cat-trapper, “We’re not experts; we’re just lucky!”

 

Back in 2019, Chris noticed neighborhood cats frequenting her backyard water garden, attracted by its fresh water and lively goldfish. It wasn't long before Chris and Ron started feeding these feline visitors. Some of the cats who stopped by to eat stayed to sleep on the covered porch, where there was a couch and other furniture. Soon there were four cats living on the porch full time.


A Growing Mission

 During the Covid lockdown, the number of cats stopping by the Brounshidle’s back yard increased. Concerned about their well-being, Chris began collaborating with neighbors who had been caring for community cats for years. Together, they identified a scraggly female working on her third litter of kittens, sparking a collective determination to take action.  

"It was too late to do anything about her current litter, but surely there was some way to get her spayed," Chris remarks.

 

Chris reached out to Sally Merritt-Braciak, director of Cat by Cat Inc., for guidance. With Sally's support, Chris and Ron embarked on a TNVR mission, aiming to spay/neuter and vaccinate as many cats as possible to control the population and improve the kitties' quality of life.

 

"Sally was so knowledgeable, so enthusiastic, so encouraging," Chris recalls. "She gave me four traps and showed me how to use them; there were four cats in those traps within an hour.” Chris brought the trapped cats to Sally, who took them to Operation Rescue to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and treated for medical issues if necessary. The cats stayed with Sally overnight, then Chris picked them up, brought them home, and let them loose.


A Growing Effort

 What started with a goal of trapping four cats quickly escalated as Chris realized the extent of the issue. It turned out there numerous outdoor-living cats in the area near their house. Behind the house was a patch of woods—a perfect place for people to dump cats and kittens they didn’t want. The abandoned cats multiplied, and many took advantage of the food provided by Chris and her neighbors, often bringing their friends and family along.

 

Utilizing traps provided by Cat by Cat Inc., Chris and Ron began their TNVR efforts in earnest. They trapped 10 cats that first summer.

 

To ensure they were only trapping cats that hadn’t been TNVR’d yet, they started drop-trapping. This involves allowing cats to become accustomed to the trap before selectively triggering it for new captures. Chris explains, “We would watch from the covered porch and spring the trap only on cats we hadn’t caught before, then transfer the cats to cages for transport to Sally.”

 

The number of untreated cats is shrinking; Chris thinks they’ve TNVR’d most of the population now. But they are still trapping—three cats were caught and treated this past month.


Welcoming New Members 

In 2022, eight kittens arrived in the Brounshidles’ back yard, underscoring the ongoing need for TNVR efforts. Chris and Ron ensured the kittens were cared for, and they eventually adopted two, Minnie and Mazzy, as indoor pets.

 

"All the cats have names," Chris emphasizes. "If we call their name, they come to the porch to be petted."

 

Chris shares a list of names, each representing a member of their extended feline family. From Edison, “who looks like he stuck his foot in a light socket,” to Tuxedo, sporting a distinctive white spot on his chest, each cat has a unique identity that reflects their personality and appearance.

 

“Tuxedo, Gabby, Dakota, Edison, Grayson, Sushi and Gizmo have been with us the longest,” Chris says fondly about those who have taken up permanent residence on the covered porch. And they are only seven out of the 26 cats Chris and Ron have TNVR’d over the last five years!


Creating Safe Spaces

As their TNVR efforts continued, Chris and Ron not only made sure the cats got medical care but also created safe spaces for them. Ron built insulated "kitty condos" equipped with heating pads and straw to keep the cats warm during winter months, ensuring their comfort and well-being.

 

In addition to the popular water garden, the Brounshidle back yard includes a feature that resident and visiting cats alike adore—Ron’s outdoor railroad train setup. “Cats walk over the bridges and crawl through the tunnels,” Chris smiles. “They have such fun!”

 

Despite occasional costly challenges, the community rallies together to support the cause. Gabby and Grayson, a devoted feline couple, received life-saving dental procedures thanks to contributions from neighbors, matched dollar for dollar by Cat by Cat Inc. Today, Gabby and Grayson share a kitty condo in winter and sleep together on the covered porch when the condos are put away for the summer.


A Lasting Impact 

Through their dedication, Chris and Ron have made a significant impact on their community, reducing the feral cat population and improving the lives of countless cats and kittens. With individualized care for each feline, they've fostered a sense of community that extends beyond their back yard.

 

Currently, in addition to Minnie and Mazzy inside, the Brounshidles have seven cats living on the porch and feed another ten or so every day, depending on who comes by. They go through about 30 pounds of dry food every month.

 

Cat-food expenses aside, Chris and Ron are happy caring for the local community cats. They enjoy the cats, they’ve gotten to know their neighbors better, and, most important, “We’ve stopped the population boom!”

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