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Eugene Weekly : Dogcatcher : 4.16.09




Feral Felines

Ask the Crazy Cat Lady edition

by Kylie Belachaikovsky

Kylie B. is the Dogcatcher

Hey Dogcatcher: I don’t even like cats, and my neighborhood is overrun with them. They poop in my flowerbeds, and every time I turn around there are, like, 10 more. Who will get rid of them for me? — Cats are Terrible

Hey CAT, wasn’t Obama’s inaugural address inspirational? Loved the part where he said, “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties … that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.”

You want to eliminate free-roaming cats, CAT? Then your character is gonna get some mad definition in the face of this difficult task. The quick, easy ways to deter cats from your property can be found on the Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) website, so check it out, www.lanecounty.org/animals But looking at the big picture, why are there so many stray cats? Sounds like your neighborhood has created an ecological niche for cats to fill. That means your location has the food, water and shelter that allows cats to survive and breed successfully. As long as these resources are available, more cats will continue to breed and migrate in. This is why it is futile to catch and remove unwanted cats. Inevitably more will move right back in. 

So what’s to do about unwanted kitty-visitors? Your best bet is to get acquainted with a cat management model called Trap, Neuter, Release, or TNR. Full details can be found at www.feralfix.org LCAS, city of Eugene, Greenhill Humane Society and the Lane County Veterinary Medical Association have teamed up to help manage the problem of homeless free-roaming felines by catching ’em, sterilizing ’em and turning ’em back loose. No more kitties get made; no more kitties move in. 

The bottom line, though, is that there is no bailout for stray cats. It will take whole neighborhoods willing to put time, effort and yes, some money into spaying and neutering those cats. Just “getting rid of them” will not be enough.

Why do I have to license my dog and keep her on a leash, but my neighbors’ cats can run free with no license? — No Fair

There are no local laws regulating cats. This may seem really unfair, indeed. But I have researched communities that mandate cat licenses and prohibit free roaming cats. Rather than helping our feline friends or encouraging more responsible caretakers, these laws lead to large numbers of (unlicensed) cats being rounded up and killed at animal shelters. For cat-haters, that is no big deal, but your local shelter workers disagree. Kitty killing sucks. LCAS is instead focusing on helping people spay and neuter their cats so that every cat is a wanted cat. Low-income residents can get vouchers to help defray the cost of surgery, and both the city of Eugene and the Willamette Animal Guild offer heavily discounted services. I can’t really answer your question, but I can tell you the only solution to our community’s cat woes: low-cost spay and neuter. It’s really that simple.