Stray Cats

From the Desk of the Mayor
Probably the worst subject that I've had to deal with as Mayor is what to do with all the stray cats in El Lago. The city has been getting calls and complaints about stray and feral cats spraying on people's property, defecating in their gardens and causing allergic reactions in folks who don't even own cats. I'm an animal lover, but after all the conversations I've had with the citizens of El Lago about the stray cats, I am convinced that the city must do something to reduce their population, and we must do something fast. The next round of kittens is, or soon will be on the way which means we will see an exponential increase in cats from the previous year.

I went to Doctor Roof's the other day and saw this piece of information: "in 7 years 1 female cat, and its young can produce 420,000 kittens." This is a staggering number. People feeding the stray cats, whether intentionally or unintentionally (food left out for other animals, uncontained trash, etc.) is in large part, responsible for this problem. As the food supply increases so does the cat population. Currently, we have such a large population of stray and feral cats that they are not only a nuisance to our citizens, but also are becoming a threat to our pets and wildlife.

The city is a recognized bird sanctuary and the excess feral cat population is intruding into the natural balance of our birds' habitat. The cats are killing birds, squirrels, lizards (mosquito eating), snakes (roach and rat eaters) and each other. When the density of the stray cats is so high, it can trigger diseases, which can rapidly spread to our domestic pets, children and older citizens.

Solutions
The city looked in to a "barn cat" program, and the 2 that we know about are either not taking new animals, or have closed. Other methods of trapping and placing the animals in a shelter are expensive and usually end in euthanasia. The trap, spay and release (TNR) programs are more costly; the expense of which would have to be borne by the taxpayers of El Lago. Also, it is only a limited solution as the average life span for feral cats is 10 years, and the TNR program does not mitigate the issues of disease or excrement.

Anyone found feeding stray cats will be subject to up to a $500 fine for each offense.

Protection Actions
Here are actions you can take to protect yourself and your pets:
  • Stop feeding stray cats.
  • Collar and/or chip your cat.
  • Do not allow your pet to roam without a leash. It is against the city's leash law, which may subject you to a citation and fine.
  • Get a pet license for your cat (and dog) from the city. By city ordinance, you are required to have your cat or dog licensed annually. To do this, come to City Hall with current proof of your animals' rabies vaccination. The license is only $5 per pet per year.
This is not a decision that's made lightly, but we know it is in the best interest of our community. Please mind your pets, have them identifiable and take responsibility for your own actions by not feeding the strays. We can all work together to help resolve this very unfortunate issue and help to make our city a healthier place for our residents and our pets.