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.

Chelsea Staley, the marketing director at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association, said the suggestions, in her opinion, aren’t helpful.

“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.

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  • CaptainQ

    Too many cats in Charleston?

    Call the planet Melmac and send for ALF!!!

    Problem solved!

    (though the ASPCA would be FURIOUS!)

  • ConservativeRealist

    Trap, Neuter & Relocate...seems like a great idea for several issues plaguing Charleston, e.g. feral cats, drug dealers, politicians...

  • john

    Bounty! If anyone objects mandate them to take two cats and they pay to fix and feec them

    • john


  • Joe

    Why does everyone just go along with the premise that Charleston has a cat over population problem? What is the cost to the city caused by feral or stray cats? Someone wrote that they kill an enormous number of beneficial animals as well as song birds. What beneficial animal lives in the city in enormous numbers? Most birds are not song birds and are a nuisance in the city. Rodents are a nuisance in the city. It doesn't bother me to see a feral cat. It does bother me to see rats running around. People that want to make a cause out of some non problem are a nuisance.

    • john

      Overpopulation spreads disease

  • Dave

    “You cannot make a feral cat a house cat,” said Staley!! What? Sorry Ms. Staley, you are wrong. Many of us have befriended feral cats and feed them. It takes time, but our wonderful house cat of 4 years spent her first two years as a feral cat outside. Through slow interaction and feeding outside, she eventually came into our family room one evening. Two months later, she was sleeping on the couch and never went back outside. This feral cat is the purrrfect family member. Is our family the exception to your statement or just part of the solution? We think the solution, and love of these wonderful cats is the answer.

  • ConservativeRealist

    Trap & Neuter & Relocate sounds like a good idea for several of the city's problems...feral cats, drug dealers, legislators...

  • Dave

    Last time I checked it costs around $5.00 for a big box of pellets from the strore for a pellet rifle.

    Just think of all of the target practice that our state and local LE could get from this problem!

    When I was a kid growing up we had cats, neighbors had cats, but ferral animals were put down without a thought, because of the damage they did to other animals and wildlife.

    I say offer a bounty and a permit fee for this and it will take care of itself!

    • Dave

      Your statements are cruel.

      • Dave

        I wouldn't say they are cruel.

        If you have an over population of an animal species then disease is easily spread.

        I would say that allowing diseased animals to infect others and allowing them to starve to death is cruel.

        In nature a natural predator would eliminate the over-population. But this isn't a state of natural nature is it. This is within a urban environment with no natural predators, so the continue to populate and spread out.

        Domesticated cats that have been released into the wild are NON-Native species here. They in-turn reproduce and produce ferral animals. To return to a balance they need to be removed from the population. TNR is an extremely costly alternative for a invassive species that we introduced into the eco system.

        I'm not a tree-hugger, just a realist, and I own a male cat that was fixed when we adopted him over 7 years ago.

  • That guy over there

    Trap and neuter...the west side and east end are full of "hood rats" that need to be trapped and neutered that is for dang sure. I've got to get on the horn with the Charleston City Council, i've got a pocket full of money and an itchy trigger finger.

  • Scissors

    I see we need some Trap and neuter ordinances for some of the "people" ( I won't use the word human. because they are not human-they are disgusting vermin themselves) posting on this. I do hope that someday someone will comment that they want to do the things you want to do to the cats TO YOU. How dare you sit there, swilling your beer, and acting like you can simply say such things and not have Karma bite you in the ass. Which it will..when you least expect it.

  • Wayne

    Why don't they give these cats to people like me; the outdoor feral cats could live outside and eat the dang moles !!!!
    I'm serious; I wouldn't have to worry about them in the winter and they could eat anything they could catch.

  • Larry

    If you have more than 2 cats, you are one of the creepy cat people you have heard others talk about.

  • That guy over there

    I could drastically reduce the population in short order...Heck, I'll even pay the city to let me do it. I'll dispose of the corpses, cats make wonderful coyote bait..I could kill the cats then use them for my coyote killing operations, then kill the coyotes..I'd be killing two varmints with 1 stone so to speak. Its a win/win for everyone. I'm just playing, i'd sell them to the "Wok and Roll" there in charleston...They would put them to good use.

  • JJ

    Feral cats should be trapped and destroyed. They cause an incredible amount of population damage to birds and small mammals. Many studies suggest feral cats are the #1 killers of songbirds. Not to mention spreaders of disease. In no way should releasing them even be considered.

    Please consider the many other animals this affects, both wild and domesticated, rather than just the cats. Domestic cats are not a native species, and that's why when they go out on their own they are "feral". There is no such thing as a "wild" house cat. Whitetail deer are wild. Black bears are wild. Chipmunks are wild. Housecats are feral. See the definition:

    1.(esp. of an animal) In a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domestication: "a feral cat".
    2.Resembling a wild animal

    Brown (or Norway) rats are also non-native and out of control but I doubt many of you want to see them trapped, neutered, and released. These feral cats are vermin just the same.

  • GregG

    I knew, given enough time, User Fee Jones would find a way to tax pussy cat. If anyone needs TNR, it would be King Danny and his Little Court. Just be sure to release them across the Ohio river.

  • That guy over there

    Lord knows you can't joke about anything anymore. Trap/neuter spay/release isn't going to fix anything except put the city under financial strain. From a biological standpoint it is very irresponsible to allow so many feral cats to run around in an area, cats are incredible hunters and will quickly have devastating effects on the local wildlife populations...small birds and other small critters. You see, feral cats are that...they are feral, not native; they are a pest like that of roaches and what not. The responsible thing to do is for cat owners to not let their cats roam freely killing and breeding out of control. Be responsible and take care of your animals. Sorry to ruffle you touchy feely animal lover’s feathers...sometimes the cold hard truth isn't covered with flowers and cute bunny rabbits. Sometimes it’s shrouded in blood and the corpses of the vermin, that's just the way it is.

    • Dean

      "quickly have devastating effects on the local wildlife populations..."
      Quickly? I didn't realize that feral cats were a new issue. I thought they had been around for oh, I don't know, decades. As far as financial strain, has anyone here looked into just how much that would cost to tnr the cats in comparison to the cost of killing them?