Reader says 'Let the cat ladies be'

Reader says 'Let the cat ladies be'

Letter to the Editor:

There is an incredibly high number of stray/feral cats in almost every neighborhood. What most do not know is Dover is very lucky to have a small group of caring animal lovers making a huge difference with this cat issue.

Years ago the Tuscarawas County Humane Society predicted parts of our town would be overrun by feral cats. The time is now.

These “cat ladies” have focused their efforts in areas of town that need the most attention. They have supplied food, shelter and most importantly have trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated about 70 cats to date.

They take any kittens born in these areas, spay and neuter them, and get them up to date on their vaccines, and then they find them loving homes, all with their own money. The city is lucky to have these women.

If anyone has been to Bob Evans, Speedway or around the Warther area, it is hard not to notice the cats. The TCHS has received calls about these areas for years. Unfortunately we do not have the manpower to focus on a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program yet.

We are thrilled this group has stepped up to do this on their own, with the permission of the local businesses that are most affected.

Recently a local business has raised a stink about the cat ladies to the Dover Police. The police have now told these ladies they will be warned, fined and then jailed if they continue their mission.

They have met with the chief of police to explain the importance of TNR in our area. It’s believed if you stop feeding cats, they will move from the area; this is not true. Attempts to permanently remove cats from an area always fail because of a natural and scientifically documented phenomenon known as the vacuum effect.

In basic terms, whenever cats are removed, new cats move in or the surviving cats left behind breed to capacity. As a result of the vacuum effect, other approaches to feral cats are not only cruel and pointless, but also they are completely ineffective.

The ladies suggested they remove all shelters, stop feeding the cats if one person can continue to TNR in this area, again a big “no.”

Cats are territorial and will not leave their home area just because the food source is removed. Cats that have not been fed for two or three days will get into dumpsters, tip over trash cans, cross streets, interact with more people. Feeding bans cause an increase in nuisance behaviors. We need ordinances that allow for TNR and management of outdoor cats.

The average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year is three. The average number of kittens in a feline litter is four to six. In seven years one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats. So imagine our town in a few years. TNR is the only answer to help with this problem. Why would our town be against this?

TNR helps prevent rabies. TNR boosts community rabies prevention. TNR eventually will reduce the size of the cat colonies in our area. It stops mating behaviors like roaming, yowling, spraying and fighting.

Most importantly the population stabilizes, and there are no new unwanted kittens.

Let the cat ladies be.

Rhonda Rosenberry, Tuscarawas County Humane Society board president

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