The Cats of Dinsmore and the Young Woman Determined to Change Their Lives as well as the Lives of Her Community Members

Two abandoned kittens in Dinsmore that eventually died. [Photo provided by Renee Sutton]

The mews of three little kittens abandoned in Dinsmore last April caught the attention of 24-year-old Renee Sutton, a local resident. She took them in and fed them. Two of them still live with her today. She found a home for the other.

“In September,” she told us, “I found two more. [The kittens in the photo above.] They died.”

Sutton said she cried for them and for the large number of stray cats in her eastern Humboldt County town. “I wanted to make sure [the stray cats] didn’t have no more babies,” she explained.

She described twenty to thirty strays living in the area that were unspayed, unneutered, and unhealthy. She didn’t have much money but wanted to help them. She reached out to us in November to ask if there was a way to get donations of food for the feral cats.

“You got me in contact with Jan Carr,” Sutton said. “And, she started donating me cat food…I get the cat food and my friends in the trailer park areas have been feeding them.”

Jan Carr, who has trapped, spayed, and neutered hundreds of felines in Humboldt County, runs Cats in my Heart, a Facebook page devoted to rescuing cats that don’t have a home. Carr has helped Sutton provide food for the animals and begin to get them spayed and neutered.

“Feral cats can over-populate quickly,” she said. “But, if you spay and neuter and monitor a colony, they actually die out if you stay on top of it.”

Carr said that Sutton impressed her. “I can’t say enough about this young woman,” Carr explained. “She has taken on so much…She’s young and has energy and she’s motivated…She knows all the cats. She knows them…She is going to make a huge difference for the people and the cats of Dinsmore…a huge difference to her community.”

One of the ways Sutton has begun helping is trapping and transporting some of the feral cats to Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network!

But Carr said Sutton faces quite a few obstacles. “She is basically on her own getting the cats to the vet in Eureka,” she told us. “It is a long drive…”

Sutton told us, “Me and my friend left our place around six in the morning and got to the spay and neuter place around seven something.” After dropping off the cats, she has to pick them up around 2 p.m. Then she has to make the drive down Hwy 101 and back out the narrow curves of Hwy 36 to Dinsmore.

But even more than the long drive is the expense. While Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network! is donating much of the expense of the actual vet and Carr donates food, Sutton has to pay for gas and for the other expenses associated with the spay and neutering.

feral orange and white cat

One of the cats Renee Sutton brought to Humboldt Spay and Neuter! to get fixed. [Photo provided by Renee Sutton]

Sutton says she also wants to help her low-income neighbors spay and neuter their pet cats. “There are people in my neighborhood who need help with that,” she told us. “Hopefully, the cats aren’t pregnant yet…The non-feral I have to pay for.”

She’s started a GoFundMe page for those who can help. Sutton said she isn’t very experienced at creating things like this. She struggled to put the page together. “The cats in the top picture aren’t the ones I’m raising money for,” she explained. “They’re just pictures off the internet.”

Sutton said her next appointment is on February 12. Then, she and a friend will lure in some strays. “We capture them by putting a little bit of food in a cage,  like a Have-A-Heart trap,” she explained. “My dad has a trap. We get one cage from a neighbor.” She’d like to have more. “The spay and neuter place told me I could rent traps for $90,” she laughed. “I was like NOPE. I’m good.”

She paused and added, “Well, maybe if I raise some money.”

[Note: Humboldt Spay Neuter doesn’t actually rent the traps. They provide them for a $90 deposit.]




  • Tractorsupply has hava heart traps way cheaper than 90$ I don’t remember the exact price but it was way less

  • My husband and I have done TNR work and have found this trap to be easy to use, sturdy, and safe – $59.75:

    It also looks like Amazon is having a sale on the Havahart traps – $52.47:

    Thank you for helping these cats Ms. Sutton. It is a labor of love 🙂

  • God bless Ms. Sutton and the people that help these creatures.

  • Kym have her get a hold of me I have some live traps for her and I live near by ish.😁

  • Humboldt Spay Nueter helped me trap and fix over 30 feral cats. They provided the traps and a beautiful person named Debbie to help me trap and transport them to their clinic in Eureka. Over 80% of them were female, many of them pregnant, so you can imagine the exponential factors in play. God bless Debbie and Humboldt Spay Nueter!

  • Contact The Millsap family in Mad River to borrow humane traps.

  • Joan Hollingsworth

    Kym, I have a couple of traps I would like to donate. Please forward my email to Renee.

  • I can see that I will be donating to Humboldt Spay and Neuter.

  • Good work Renee! You are doing something that will make a difference in your neighborhood … for both cats and people. Everyone please give .. either a little money, or a little help. Kind hearted people rule my world!

  • Renee, you are a wonderful human being. Thank you for being a friend to all creatures great and small.

  • Renee I can’t thank you enough I have a feral Kitty myself that I’ve been feeding and taking care of her for years and she will only come to me she won’t let anybody else touch her but I can call her , and she will come and i scratcher and everything she loves and she sits on my lap so what you’re doing for these animals you deserve sainthood thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. And I named her moochie.

  • Thank you eveyone for the nice comments. Thank you Kym for writeing this artical.

    • awww bless your sweet big heart. I just might look into these free traps to borrow for myself, for an overpopulation of strays I’ve come across in Garberville & been feeling a need to do something about them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I’m so impressed with the work that people like this are doing! Cats reproduce quickly and can get sick when not being cared for easily. Spay and neuter is a kind way to help strays especially.
    Anyone in the Garberville and outlying area that is low income can call the Garberville Thrift Store on Wensdays and ask for Sarah. Dogs and cats..She can help with a voucher.

  • I made an educational video about containing feral and pet cats, for public health reasons, as well as livestock and wildlife health. The issue came up for me because feral cat colonies nearby and the watershed issues. There are pragmatic solutions to containing feral cats, if you don’t want to humanely euthanize them. I support humane euthanasia, but I’m aware there are cat rightists who oppose euthanasia of feral cats, but they must not be allowed to foul our watersheds, food supply, parks, wildlife areas, and neighborhoods with the cat parasites. At the Vimeo page of the educational video, I also list many health and management related links for educational purposes. Here is the link

  • unbridled phillistine

    There were so many kittens in my neighborhood in Fortuna I figured I was going to have to do something? Then a Bobcat came through and all the kittens are gone and the adults as well. Guess Bobcats eat kittys. Natural selection.

  • weott has a ferel cat problem.when i lived there i traped 3 cats and had them spayed and nuterd with the help from the thrift shop in gville.there names were fernando,calico cat ,little black kitty.

  • Cats kill billions of wild animals every year, and as so many are well fed they don’t often enough eat their prey. House cats are invasive and non native, and adorned by people of all types, even many of my fellow environmentalist friends.

    • they are cute little monsters, we keep our monsters indoor. the topic of invasive and non-native is a difficult one when attached to human activities. you first have to contemplate if humans are native and natural and if so is what we do natural. so if we are native and a natural animal to this planet, then everything we do is natural, even our cute little monsters.

      • Ya we’re not native to this planet that’s for sure, what other animals
        can’t survive in pretty much any climate here without clothes or tools (there is a few spots but not many)

        • Many Reptiles, insects, mammals and birds have very limited ranges. You only have to see what lives inland and what lives on the coast here to see that many can’t take difference in climate just a hundred miles or so away from each other.

      • It can be complicated physically but from a practical standpoint, or from the standpoint of scientific knowledge, it is very simple. One of the worst things humans do is introduce destructive species.

    • What you say is mostly true
      Yet cats also keep away the rodents which I appreciate very very much What Renee is doing is commendable Keeping the feral populations from expanding and caring for the rodent-eaters is a good community service! She is picking up from the selfish people that abandon cats and making something good out of it!

  • What about all the wildlife these animals kill? Or the mammals that contract the toxoplasma gondii parasite from these invasive animals? Cats really don’t belong loose and roaming free on the landscape, they are an environmental hazard and a hazard to human health, just like dogs would be if permitted to roam free and exist in feral “colonies”. I wish I could applaud your efforts, but re-releasing them for the public and native wildlife to have to deal with is a terrible act. If you really cared for them, you would find them homes or keep them on YOUR land. Cats don’t “control” vermin, they become vermin if uncontrolled and unmanaged.

  • The Spay/neuter Network said they will soon be having a veterinarian coming to do operations at their own surgery. They will be able to double the number of spays they do and will start taking on dogs too.

  • Soooo Wonderful Renee!! I am going to share this all over the place… SOOO Much LOVE!!

  • “Feral cats can over-populate quickly,” she said. “But, if you spay and neuter and monitor a colony, they actually die out if you stay on top of it.”

    Peer reviewed studies have shown this to be untrue. TNR is not effective and does not address the problem of cats killing native wildlife.

  • Heartwarmingly well intentioned, but depressingly misinformed.

    Why does compassion and responsibility end with cats, instead of the animals they kill?

  • These wild feral cats have decimated the bird population near our house. People shuld consider this before getting a cat and keep it from killing birds!

  • Peter Caine Dog Training. Youtube. Check it out.

  • Thank you Renee for what you’re doing and to those supporting her with this mission. We can spend all day talking about cats as invasive species and the issues they create, which is important too. AND, in this massive, complicated, overwhelming world of all kinds of issues (mostly problems created, perpetrated and encouraged by humans) I appreciate the fact that you see a need in your community and you are doing SOMETHING to improve it. Realistically, you could just sit behind a computer and bitch about how shitty life is and how shitty everyone’s ideas are, but at the end of the day, you choose to use your energy in a good way. I grew up near Dinsmore and love the area very much. Thanks again.

  • Clarification from Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network regarding traps and trap loans.

    Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network does not rent traps. We loan them free of charge, however, after losing many traps because people did not return them, we have been forced to collect a refundable deposit that will enable us to replace traps that are not returned. The traps we loan are high quality and sturdy and cost us $90 each. Thus, our trap deposit is $90. When the trap is returned, the deposit is refunded.

    There are indeed less expensive traps available, and we always check these out to see if we can use less expensive traps. In our experience, the one we purchased from Harbor Freight did not hold up to repeated use, and some cats were able to escape from this trap. The traps sold at Tractor Supply are slightly sturdier, though still not as heavy-duty as we need, and they do not have a back door. This makes it harder to put food into the trap, and also to release the cats, once they have been fixed.

    We understand that the $90 deposit is a hardship for people, especially when they need several traps. In these cases, as we did with Ms. Sutton, we offer to send one of our volulnteer trappers out with the traps. In Ms. Sutton’s case, we were told that no one else was allowed on the property where she lives.

    We have tremendous appreciation for the work Ms. Sutton is doing, and are always willing to support individuals like her, who are willing to go above and beyond for the animals. We recognize the difficulties that people in outlying areas face in getting animals to the vet, especially when the animals are feral cats. For this reason, we do our best to make it as easy as possible, accepting animals later than our regular drop-off time, or taking them in the previous day and keeping them overnight at no charge. We welcome anyone who is feeding feral cats to contact us and we will do everything in our power to help get these cats fixed. By working together, we can the world a better place for animals.

    • This is extremely helpful information. Kym, is there any way you can update your article to include the vital information that the 90$ fee for Humboldt Spay/Neuter Networks traps are actually a deposit that will be promptly given back upon return? I’d hate for people to get the wrong information about a non-profit that has consistently given back to our community and the homeless animal population.

  • Nice story.
    Cats keep the rat population down; rats have way more germs than a cat.
    Cats are very helpful and clean
    Prefer a cat who earns his keep. keeping down rats, than a rat any day.

  • The kittens you found were abandoned. That means that some person living nearby had a fertile female cat, allowed her to mate, and didn’t want the kittens, not even to give away to a loving indoor-only home. To stop cat colony formation, we must stop unrestricted breeding of pet cats. Neutering the abandoned cats is intervening far too late to be effective. Spay the pet cats! What does help prevent cat abandonment is 1) License owned cats, preferably with both a license tag and a microchip, 2) Charge substantially more to license a fertile cat, so that neutering the cat costs less than licensing it without neutering, 3) Fine cat owners who let their cats wander off their property, and 4) Assign ownership of outdoor cats to the person or persons who feed them. (If you feed it then you own it.), and fine them for letting the cats roam or for not buying licenses, and 5) if the city budget has some extra money, subsidize the cost of neutering owned cats, but not unowned cats.

  • Also, let us not forget that humans kill wild animals, and each other.

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