Five of the city’s residents lobbied the City Commission at its July 8 meeting to support what they say is a more humane and more effective way of dealing with the city’s feral cats.
The residents said the commission adopting a trap-neuter-return program would be the only effective way of controlling the wild cat population in Royal Oak. Trap-neuter-return is a program where the city traps the feral cat, brings the animal into the shelter, neuters it and returns it to the area in which it was trapped.
Chris Shelton, one of the residents, said it is important to deal with the situation because feral cats tie up city resources with shelter and euthanasia costs.
Historically, he said simply trapping and removing a feral cat from a colony does nothing to decrease the population. Shelton said all that method creates is a vacuum, where the remaining cats will overbreed and new cats will repopulate the area quickly.
“We continue to try to use this and it doesn’t work,” Shelton said. “The only real solution is trap-neuter-return.”
He said cities that have adopted this philosophy have seen dramatic decreases in shelter intake and euthanasia of feral cats.
Cities like Baltimore; Jacksonville, Fla., and Washington, D.C., have adopted the program, according to the organization Alley Cat Allies.
Shelton added that several local communities are considering the adoption of the program and brought up state House Bill 4852, a bill to support municipalities in establishing trap-neuter-return programs. The bill was introduced in June.
“This is not an unmanageable situation,” Shelton said.
Resident Ed Spilker said current shelters are inadequate for feral cats.
“Feral cats’ needs are not met by current animal control shelter systems, where animals are not adopted but killed,” Spilker said. “No matter what you call them, these are just cats that have been left behind and abandoned and adapted to life outdoors. Just like a squirrel or a rabbit, they have a right to live.”
Commissioner Peggy Goodwin and Mayor Jim Ellison showed support for adopting the program.
“Any information or ideas you can bring to get this started, I would be in favor of that,” said Goodwin, who owns a once-feral cat.
Ellison agreed the trap-neuter-return program has been proven to be effective.
“For us, it’s simply a situation of coming up with an ordinance and coming up with a plan,” Ellison said. “Our plate has been kind of full lately, but it’s not something we’re forgetting about.”
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