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.