CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The city of Charleston is dealing with a cat overpopulation problem.. The numbers of stray and feral cats in the city is cause for concern. Monday night city council discussed the exploding feline population and some potential solutions.
Some of those ideas tossed out and up for discussion were creating a feline registry, a $3 per-year cat tax and a limit of two cats per household.
“Historically in other cities cat limits are nothing but a bad thing,” Staley said.
She said unlike most dogs many cats, even house cats, who are well cared for don’t wear ID tags. She adds, in the long run, cat ordinances like the ones proposed Monday at city council don’t reduce the cat population by much.
“They only punish responsible cat owners and they don’t really do anything to help the problem because the problem is the irresponsible cat owner,” according to Staley.
Charleston’s animal control officers told city council they work very hard to contain the feline population but it’s near impossible with so many strays and, more importantly, feral cats on the loose.
Staley said euthanasia is not the answer to the problem.
“There is a large feral cat problem in Charleston. Nobody is denying that. But there are some creative solutions to help with that that don’t punish responsible pet owners.”
Staley advocates the trap/neuter/relocate option, or TNR, which calls for catching feral cats, sterilizing them and then letting back into the wild.
“You cannot make a feral cat a house cat,” said Staley. “You can’t try to adopt a feral cat into a home because it doesn’t want a home. Outside is its home. They are survivors, just like wildlife. They just happen to look like your house cat.”
When feral cats are brought into the shelter, Staley said they can’t be rehabbed. That means euthanasia. She stressed the TNR method, used in other cities, has a produced a 63 percent decrease in the cat population over a 10-year period.
The Humane Association wants to work with the city to help solve the problem. In fact, they hope to sit down with council members in the near future to talk about options that don’t involve what they call “punishing responsible cat owners” with a tax, but instead target feral cat populations and bring them under control.