ATL. HIGHLANDS - The problem of feral cats, where they come from, why they stay, and how dangerous are they have all be raised by at least one resident in this community who is clearly frustrated about what can be done.
One woman who lives with her husband on Bay Ave and at the time does not have any pets, said she has raised concerns about cats who don’t belong to anyone, don’t appear to be cared for nor fed, but still continue hanging around the neighborhood.
“Simply not so,” said one animal expert to whom this reporter spoke, “Just think of the movie The Lady and the Tramp. Tramp knew which restaurants to go to, where to get his meals, that’s animal nature and that’s what keeps cats or any other animal coming back to the same place.”
The first thing, the professional animal care giver said, is to be certain all garbage cans are tightly closed, garbage isn’t left out in plastic bags, scraps are not left out for consumption if you want to be sure animals will not come around. The next thing is to be certain that your own animals are spayed and cared for in the home. “If they’re domestic animals, they need to be kept in the domicile …that’s in the home, “ the care giver said. He also cited the second problem, quoting an old saying, “if they feed, they breed.” So feeding stray animals leads to more stray animals.
The local resident said she has no pets of her own, and her friends who have cats keep them on a leash or in their homes. But she is fearful of the cats nobody owns that roam the neighborhood. Worse, some appear to be perhaps the offspring of cats who have been around awhile.
“That would be natural,” the animal expert said, “again, if they feed, they breed.”
The concerned resident said she has brought the matter to the attention of local authorities as well as the SPCA in Eatontown, and has received some help, but the problem exists.
“After we moved here in January 2018, we saw an occasional feral cat walking through our yard and just shooed it away when that happened,” she said. But by last year, the visits were daily and this year there are at least five feral cats that live in the neighborhood close to her home. “The people whose yard they often stay in do not feed the cats or want the cats there. My husband and I do not feed them or want the cats and other neighbors don't feed them or want them in their yards either. None of us are feeding them.”
But someone has to be, the experts say.
The SPCA responded with a trap to secure the cats and bring them to another area. Unfortunately, particularly in high temperature summer days, they cannot leave the traps over night or for long periods of time. That’s also to protect the resident, the expert said. “Traps cannot be left where they cannot be checked on a regular basis. If an animal is trapped on someone’s property, and dies in the trap, that resident could be charged with animal cruelty.”
The animal care giver, also a passionate animal lover, said it is understandable people want to feed stray and hungry looking animals. ‘”But animals are smart, they see the food supply, so they’ll hang around because life is comfortable and easy.” It’s for that reason people put out bird baths and bird feeders, these are animals they clearly want to keep around and they know food does it. It works the same with animals that aren’t as cute or eye catching just as well.”
Police Chief Dave Rossbach pointed out while he is aware of isolated incidents with animals, he is not aware of any current ongoing problems and it is not a police problem at this time. Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny reiterated Rossbach’s statements, and noted he has referred anyone with animal problems to contact the SPCA as the organization most knowledgeable and capable of taking care of any problems.
Local ordinances on pets appear to make it clear no one should feed pets that are not vaccinated; in doing they would be considered the animal’s owner and responsible for adhering to the provisions of the laws concerning care and vaccination.
Both local officials agreed with the animal care giver that someone must be feeding cats for them to stay in one location for any length of time. If requested, the administrator would send a letter to everyone in the neighborhood of a specific problem to alert them to the problem and urge they not feed any animals, as painful as that might be if they see some that appear hungry or uncared for. Both also agree that once the feeding stops, the animals quickly leave the area to find another source.
“No one wants to harm the cats,” the concerned resident said, “but at the same time we don't want them in our yard. There is no Cat Farm ..where we can send them to, at least that I am aware of.
But it remains a problem