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Massena supervisor asks residents to avoid feral cats

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A discussion about the Massena Humane Society’s spending plan at Monday’s budget workshop evolved into a conversation about feral cats.

Mr. Gray noted that over the last five years only about one-fourth of the animals treated by the Massena Humane Society were dogs, while the balance was largely comprised of cats. In 2012, for example, only 171 of the 730 treated animals were dogs.

“A budget critic would say we have no responsibility to the humane society other than dog control,” Mr. Gray said after the workshop. “We have no legal responsibility, by law, to take care of cats.”

While only a fraction of the cats handled by the humane society are feral, the animals are problematic in Massena, Mr. Gray said.

“It’s irresponsible to feed feral cats because it’s just perpetuating the problem,” Mr. Gray told the town board Monday night. “The only way to fix the problem is to let these cats die.”

Many feral cats spread diseases and will ultimately die anyway, Mr. Gray said. Other wild cats will give birth, he said, and only create more kittens that are doomed to live short, unhealthy lives.

Mr. Gray said he believes there is a serious feral cat issue in Massena, saying that when he takes his dog for evening car rides, he sees an average of three wild cats per night.

Mr. Gray listed three problems caused by the feral cat population, which he said is perpetuated by residents feeding these “wild animals.” One is the nuisances the stray cats cause, which includes damage to lawns and outdoor property. A second is the potential for health concerns, including rabies. A third, which Mr. Gray mentioned at Monday’s town board meeting, is the wasting of town resources on the capture and control of wild cats. In most instances, these cats cannot be socialized to coexist with humans or other cats, and thus, must remain outdoors for their whole lives, Mr. Gray said.

He suggested all cat-owners have their pets spayed and neutered, and to not let them out at any time of day, for any reason.

Heidi J. Bradish, executive director of the Humane Society, said 5 percent of all cats coming into the Humane Society are truly feral. Many others were domesticated at an earlier point but had since been abandoned by their owners.

“Feral cats are truly wild animals,” she said. “They can be very dangerous.”

She said the town should consider requiring cats to be licensed like dogs are, mandating spaying and neutering, or placing a limit on the number of cats allowed per household in order to begin curbing the overpopulation.

“There are places in town that truly have 20 or 30 cats,” she said.

The Humane Society’s goal is to find homes for the animals who are brought into the shelter, and to avoid euthanizing them when possible, she said.

“It is definitely the responsibility of those that are capable to care for those who are not,” she said.

Mr. Gray’s wife, Marcy Ashley Gray, serves on the Humane Society’s Board of Directors.

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