Lynn Kennedy discusses her committee's plan to handle feral cats at Albany Commissioner Jon Howard's Town Hall meeting on Saturday.
ALBANY -- Even the dog and bird people had a heart when it came to cats Saturday.
The crowd of more than 30 at Albany Commissioner Jon Howard's Town Hall meeting at 10 a.m. listened to a cat-ordinance advocate explain her committee's plan to deal with feral cats.
Then a few people threw some dog and bird soft-pitch curveballs at Lynn Kennedy's plan that would involve trapping, neutering and returning feral cats to their environment.
"Feral cat colonies can exist in neighborhoods without irritating the neighbors," Kennedy said. "We studied ordinances in other cities and found that all had the same results with trap and kill. The more cats killed the more cats we got."
It is well known that nature abhors a vacuum. Once cats are removed, food and shelter become available for other cats to move in. Kennedy said there is a better way.
Using the trap, neuter and return method, known as T-N-R, Kennedy said other cities such as Charleston, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., have had good results in reducing their feral cat population.
According to Kennedy, the plan calls for animal control and a new group of volunteers in the city to trap the cats, have them neutered and then return them to the area where they were trapped.
Cats are territorial and like to stay, or at the very least if they roam, return to their habitat. Once a habitat is full, other cats are usually discouraged from taking up residence.
The cost, according to Kennedy, would be covered by what the city spends to have cats killed, cremated and disposed of by the Albany Humane Society, which is $75 per cat. Neutering would be cheaper at $50 per cat.
Kennedy said her volunteers were pursuing grants to finance the program. She said she was looking for a way to combine private and public financing.
All well and good, but Bill Bates of the Albany Audubon Society didn't like the return to the habitat aspect. Returning cats to the habitat, which could be near the bird habitat he maintains in his backyard, caused his concern.
"Cats kill birds, birds eat insects. We are eliminating this biological control by allowing cats to live," Bates said. "Their territory is my back yard and they are killing my pets."
Bates said he realized a plan was needed, but one where cats are returned to their habitat didn't impress him.
"I don't think it is the best plan," Bates said. "Maybe a combination of the two (killing and T-N-R)?"
A man with a couple small dogs, George Stewart said that one of his pets was blinded by a fight with what he thought was a neighbor's cat that roamed into his yard.
"Your cat in my yard ... bang," Stewart said.
Of course, Stewart is the man who just caught a white kitten in his yard and turned it over to a cat lover in the crowd.
Bird, dog and cat lovers discussed the problem and seemed to favor the T-N-R ordinance that could be acted on by the city commission in August.