PDT Staff Writer
At the Scioto County Health Coalition meeting Friday, it was announced that Yost Engineering and the Portsmouth City Health Department will be teaming up to help address stray and feral cats issues.
“I’m sure as everyone knows there is a big problem with feral cats in Portsmouth. We’ve had a lots of complaints and unfortunately not much funding to deal with this issue. Yost Engineering came to us with a proposal that we’ve been working on,” said Andrew Gedeon, RS Director of Environmental Health for the Portsmouth City Health Department.
Gedeon introduced Amy Shropshire, Marketing Director for Yost Engineering, who spoke to those in attendance about the issue.
“What we want to talk about is all of the stray and feral cats that we see running around town, getting into dumpsters and making a big mess of things,” Shropshire said. “One of the things we have noticed at our company (Yost Engineering), is that we have 15 or 20 (stray and feral cats) in that area, that are just running amok, breeding, dying, getting in fights, waking people up in the middle of the night and digging up plant beds. The other problem is that people routinely drop off animals at the flood wall.”
She said each year the employees of Yost Engineering look at different causes to donate funds toward.
“Each employee gets $300 that they can allocate to a cause that would benefit the community. So, this year we voted $1,700 to seeing if we could put together a trap, neuter, return program for Portsmouth or at least getting it started,” Shropshire said.
Shropshire said one the reasons they would like to get this program started is based on a study conducted by Brenda Griffin of Cornell University. The study estimates that one un-spayed female cat produces two litters per year. If two kittens from those litters survive to reproduce and if none of those cats are spayed or neutered, in five years there’s a possibility of 59,049 cat offspring all originating from the one un-spayed female cat. That is nearly triple the population of the city of Portsmouth, according to the latest U.S. census data.
“So, you could imagine if do not address this issue, it could lead to a pretty big problem. Some people have said, why don’t we just find homes for these cats? These are feral cats, they can not be homed, they are dangerous,” Shropshire said.
Shropshire said she was working with a trap, neuter, return program in Columbus and was bitten through the finger trying to catch a cat.
“We don’t want people interacting with these cats. But, we do want to make sure people are kept safe from these cats,” Shropshire said.
She said the one thing they do not want to do is catch and kill these cats or catch and relocate.
“What’s been found is that trap, neuter, return programs do a good job of stabilizing them (stray and feral cats) and making them better neighbors. It makes them less aggressive and less of a risk for the people that live around them,” Shropshire said.
She said places that have implemented trap, neuter, return programs include Stanford University, Texas A&M, North Carolina State University, University of Florida, the city of San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington D.C. among others.
“What we would like to do is take that money that we’ve set aside and coordinate with people to implement a trap, neuter, return program here. We want to start with the area around the flood wall. We’re familiar with the area and have an idea about the animals that are down there,” Shropshire said. “Hopefully as we do this we can evaluate it and see if it works, so we don’t get those 56,000 cats running around the area.”
According to Chris Smith, Commissioner with the Portsmouth City Health Department, the proposed program would assist in saving the city some money.
“We spend a lot of money that we don’t have anymore in catching them (stray and feral cats) and putting them to sleep. We spend about $30 for every cat that we capture. Before, when we capture a cat, we have to hold it for three days and then we have to have it put down,” Smith said. “This is a never-ending problem and with the city’s budget cuts, we had to cut back on our cat program. So, we have to be more creative and this is a much better solution.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or email@example.com.