Group Asks to Save Petaluma's Feral Cats

Save Our Ferals wants the California city to change policy of trapping and killing feral cats.

Posted: June 30, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Feral cat advocates have asked the city of Petaluma, Calif., to revise a 2004 law that calls for the trapping and killing of untamed cats. Save Our Ferals instead wants the city to consider a trap, neuter and return policy, which would be organized and funded by a nonprofit group, the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat reports.

The city adopted the current policy of trapping and killing feral cats in response to residents’ complaints about the animals, including concerns about excess food left by caretakers that was attracting skunks and raccoons. The policy bans feral cats in city parks and requires animal control officers to trap those living in parks and within a half-mile of wetlands. Colonies registered with the city — those that are not considered a nuisance — are permitted to exist. Four such colonies currently are registered.

While animal control professionals said the policy has reduced the number of feral cats, they said a trap-neuter-return program could work, too. Petaluma’s Animal Services Advisory Committee will review the current policy and the proposed changes at a meeting on July 9. “Cat advocates asked for it,” said Nancee Tavares, the city’s director of animal services. “And we want to work with them. I’d recommend it.”

Pat Boyd, founder of Save Our Ferals, said her group would work with animal control officers to trap the feral cats, pay to have them spayed or neutered, then return them to the outdoors. Wildlife advocates, however — including Gerald Moore, chairman of the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance — remain concerned that the cats will impact endangered species in the area.

“The cats are very active predators,” Moore said. “We don’t want to see species decimated by the feral cat.”

Boyd wonders whether the cats will actually threaten the endangered animals found in Petaluma. “It’s a bunch of hogwash,” she said. “They don’t have the proof.”

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Elle    Petaluma, CA

9/15/2008 9:01:15 PM

Since passing the feral cat ordinance in 2004, Petaluma has been trapping and killing feral cats by the hundreds each year. The cats have been banned from all City parks and a block from any city parks; All wetlands (the Petaluma river runs through the city) and half a mile from any wetlands. City post signs in parks and wetlands, but cats cannot read the signs.

There are 47 city owned parks in Petaluma for a total of 260.5 acres. The City of Petaluma is appr. 10,300 acres. Adding one block to all parks and half mile to wetlands, plus adding every home, (Petaluma population 59,600) buildings, roads and highways, leave no room for cats in Petaluma let alone feral cats.

The 2004 Petaluma feral cat ordinance, drafted by Petaluma Animal Shelter Manager and Wetlands Docents, was approved by the Petaluma City Council unanimously. The ordinance was modeled after "Cats Indoors" organizations such as ABC (American Bird Conservancy) and PRBO, (Point Reyes Bird Observatory, who want all cats indoors in total disregard for homeless cats.

A small group has been working at changing the ordinance and giving a voice to feral cats. It is a long and slow process. Personally, my role is to bring facts and apply pressure on City government to do what is right and to stop killing all the cats in Petaluma. I have rescued feral cats and kittens LINK for more than ten years and when I gave up my project, there were many volunteers in Petaluma working at TNR programs. But the ordinance killed all that. Volunteers, punished by the feral cat ordinance, either abandoned their colonies or are working underground in fear of retribution from City animal shelter employees who endorse the ordinance.

I am working so hard at reversing that ordinance and fighting the City of Petaluma . . . I am drained and afraid that when it comes to City Council again (very soon) they will listen again to wetlands docents and City employees (as they did in 2004) and then, the cats will lose again.

What you can do? E-mails and letters to City of Petaluma from all over the U.S. would be of great help. Tell them that Petaluma needs to allow a TNR program for feral cats (Trap/Neuter/Release) They refused help from near-by TNR organizations in 2004. All information at: www.petalumaferalcats.com

Thank you.

Julie    Richmond, VA

7/15/2008 4:52:40 PM

Trap & remove does not work because a new colony will just move into the vacated area. The problem will not be solved until PEOPLE spay and neuter their pets, and stop abandoning them.

Tim    Lawrenceville, NJ

7/7/2008 9:54:12 AM

Of course the cat have to go! Our native wildlife deserve no less. These poor misguided souls that feed these cats are to blame for continuing the problem. Trap and remove will work if the artificial food source is also removed. Cats are domestic animals that have no habitat outdoors. Enclose them or remove them, there are no other sane options.

JENNY    PORTLAND, OR

7/1/2008 1:01:57 AM

A VERY GOOD IDEA.

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