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What You Can Do About Feral Cats In Your Neighborhood

Residents have options when dealing with feral cats

This coming Sunday is National Feral Cat Day.

It didn't take a national observance day .

Many council members have received complaints about these ferals —these “wild” offspring of domestics, a result of pet owners failing to spay and neuter pet cats that go astray or get abandoned.

It's hard to look at outdoor cats quite the same after hearing someone refer to them as an invasive species. They are — they're nonnative to the area and prey on the critters supposed to be here.

Feral cats, the ones with no human contact, all their reproductive organs intact, are both an invasive species and a plague. Over 12 years, one unspayed female can exponentially be responsible for more than 3,200 kittens without human intervention, according to a study by Karen Johnson of the National Pet Alliance.

It's no wonder residents noticing a problem are calling: frequent loudcnoise from fighting or mating, strong foul marking odors, flea infestations and visible suffering from dying kittens and injured adults.

All these complaints later, Mentor City Council President Robert Shiner said there's not much else city council can do than enforce an ordinance holding cat owners responsible for the damage their pets do.

"Communities who take a strong stance on this ultimately have to decide if they want to capture and euthanize the animals,” said City Manager Ken Filipiak.

However, the ASPCA endorses Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as the only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies, allowing them to live out their lives without contributing to overpopulation.

The alternative — collection and euthanasia or relocation — only vacates the area for other cats to continue the reproduction cycle, according to the ASPCA and others.

I'll confess, my sister and I grew up feeding two ferals in Parma Heights. Our aunt was allergic, so this was our only means of contact with cats. I avoid it now, having seen a whole garageful of sad souls in Windham, enough to convince me that it's in no one's best interest.

A dying kitten is something that sears itself into your memory, like it or not. But there was a time last spring when one tiny kitten sought shelter in a trash on our back porch in Chardon, and there was no way I wasn't filling his little belly with Fancy Feast.

Had he been a little older, I like to think I would have contacted PetFix Northeast Ohio, by which private citizens can pay $35 per cat to help control the feral population in their neighborhoods. Learn about PetFix's collaboration with at this link. And if you choose to help, visit this website for some special advice on catching feral cats.

Your city officials may feel like they have their hands tied at the moment, Mentor. But maybe, if you work together, you can control the problem yourself.

If you think you have a feral cat problem in your neighborhood, post a comment about it below. What do you see? Is it getting worse? How do your neighbors handle it? This could be the topic of a future column, and we'd like your input.

Redbud October 11, 2011 at 02:47 PM
I have a huge feral/free roaming cat problem. TNR is not the solution, we must trap and remove these cats as well as the artificial food source. The cat feeders are the real problem. The feeders may run out of money for spay/neuter and vaccinations but thet NEVER stop feeding the cats.
Albert D October 12, 2011 at 05:43 AM
Trapping and/or sterilizing and testing as a solution is a failed concept from Day-One. There are now about 150,000,000 INVASIVE-SPECIES feral-cats just in the USA, PLUS 86,000,000 pet-cats (60,000,000 of which are still allowed to kill all wildlife), this means the population is already oversaturated for a long time. Nobody wants more than 86,000,000 cats for pets. There's only 311,000,000 people in the USA. 2+ cats exist for every 3 people, from infant to senior. Thanks to those who outlawed destroying them in a more efficient, often more-humane, and more cost-effective manner by shooting them. While they also promoted their slow, random-chance, inefficient, and failed trapping programs. TNR people (cruelly-abusive and criminally-irresponsible cat-hoarders in reality) will claim trap and kill is also a failure, and they'd be right. The problem has always been the trapping, slowing things down far below cats' breeding-rates. No trapping has ever managed to trap more than 0.4% of feral-cats in any one area. Allowing >99.6% to continue to breed out of control all these years, and still going strong.
Albert D October 12, 2011 at 05:51 AM
On advice of the sheriff, I was able to rid my land of ALL these INVASIVE-SPECIES cats by shooting. Cats annihilated the native food-chain for ALL native wildlife. Destroying not only all the prey that their cats disemboweled and cruelly tortured for play-toys, but all the predators that depended on that prey, starving all native predators to death as well. This is even a more humane method when done right than terrorizing trapping and animal-shelter methods. One moment they are stalking defenseless animals to cruelly torture again, the next they are dead and don't even know what happened. Making your land 100% cat-free is something cat advocates haven't been able to solve nation-wide for 30-40 years. Here only 1 person in only 2 seasons was able to accomplish what they couldn't attain in decades. Why is that? It's also been over a year since, guess how many replaced them. NONE. Another flat-out TNR LIE. NATIVE wildlife and NATIVE predators THAT BELONG HERE replaced them! If it's not legal where you live then use the "SSS Cat Management Program", for Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-Up. That's legal everywhere in the world. It may be the only thing that saves us from this ecological disaster caused by spineless and ignorant lawmakers, as well as all the heartless and disrespectful cat-advocates that they defend. Don't waste your time arguing with ignorant cat-lovers either, as I stupidly tried to do for 15 years. Just do what needs to be done FIRST.
Albert D October 12, 2011 at 05:52 AM
Moral of the Story: 15 YEARS of arguing with demented cat-lovers and during that time THEIR CATS DESTROYED ALL THE WILDLIFE ON MY LAND. It wasn't until I STOPPED arguing and did what needed to be done -- SHOOT ALL CATS -- that my land, all the wildlife on my land, and my life itself started to return to normal. I no longer have to go out twice a day on cat-patrol to shoot more nor waste more time and energy burying them to protect the wildlife from the diseases they carry. I hope the rest of you learn from this lesson. You can argue with the Toxoplasmosis parasites in the cat-lovers' brains until you are blue in the face and your whole planet is destroyed by their cats, but it'll never get rid of the cats that have destroyed your life and all wildlife. JUST DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE -- DESTROY THEM. Only later, AFTER your land and life are 100% free of cats, can you have fun educating the ineducable. Use the time you got back from their cats taking over your life to teach the best ways to destroy all cats. (Without harming any other wildlife nor humans.) Then if you want, make YOUR life THEIR problem. Just as they made THEIR cats YOUR problem for years. It's only fair! Because that's what it's really all about, it's not about cats at all. They only want to CONTROL YOUR LIFE WITH THEIR CATS. You put a stop to that immediately BY DESTROYING THEIR CATS. And there's not ONE THING they can do about it if you do it right. They'll no longer have any part of your life.
CLH February 04, 2013 at 05:26 PM
TNR doesn't help with the fact that they keep you up at night with their fighting and mating howls (Sounds like burning in hell), them running in front of your car, them killing wildlife for fun, them harassing you for food, or sneaking into your home and car. We have one that snuck in here and I woke up to it crawling into my babies crib! They need to pass a law like they have for dogs where they cannot be outside!

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