Fixing A Growing Feral Cat Problem

It's a question creating a moral dilemma...what to do about a growing population of feral cats?

A recent study at the University of Nebraska says they should be killed and that programs intended to reduce the population are not effective.

The Nebraska Humane Society disputes that claim.

Judy van Loh has regular feline visitors in her backyard.

Nine cats live in the creek behind her house but none of them are actually hers.

"A lot of people move and just leave them just dump them and they come here because the other kitties are here," she said. "I was concerned about how to take care of them I didn't want them put down."

An explosion of feral cats is raising concern across the metro area, where an estimated 60,000 cats either live in the wild or roam.

The idea of simply exterminating supposed feral cats is gaining opposition.

"I think that some of the conclusions are pretty sweeping to say trap neuter and release programs don't work...well they have worked in some areas," Pam Wiese of the Nebraska Humane Society said.
"People have put cats into this position."

Wiese said the area near the Peony Park HyVee had a feral cat population of about 70 cats a few years ago. They were all rounded up and spayed and neutered. They were then returned to the area where they lived out their lives and today the problem is gone.

Volunteers can get a feral cat permit. For $25 they can "host" a cat colony.

Judy van Loh enlisted in the program.

"So they brought me the cages and within a week and we had it all taken care of and I really think its a nice thing," she said.

The nine feral cats that call the van Loh backyard "home" are all fixed.

And with feral cats living an average of four years...the problem eventually takes care of itself solving a growing problem in a more humane way.

Right now the humane society can only spay and neuter about a dozen cats a week, but they hope to soon change that.

A new facility aimed at increasing the numbers of "cat operations" has already broken ground and should be up and running by spring.

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