The city of La Crosse will try neutering and freeing nuisance cats, instead of euthanizing them.
The city council approved Thursday an amendment aimed at spaying or neutering problem cats, vaccinating them for rabies and re-releasing them back to where they were caught, in hopes of reducing the cat population. The vote was 12-1.
Council president Barb Janssen said cat regulations are needed, though the city does not require residents to spay/neuter their pet cats or prohibit them from going outside.
Janssen said at Thursday’s monthly council meeting that, in her neighborhood, “we’ve had over 100 cats and kittens picked up more than once from one individual home that were living outside.”
Only feral cats are being put down by the Coulee Region Humane Society (CRHS). About 35 a year within the city, it said last week. This plan, often called TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) would end that.
The CRHS is pursuing grant money to support the TNR plan, noting at the meeting, it takes in about 500 stray cats a year. It has about 70 cats to adopt right now.
In a somewhat unusual move, the council voted down a motion to study the cat control program for 30 days.
Scott Neumeister wanted the delay.
“There’s people that think feral cats die a horrible, horrible death,” he said. “Either they’re eaten by coyotes or fox, or they starve to death, they freeze to death.”
Neumeister worries that people are going to find “shot cats.”
Another council member, Doug Happel, was opposed to more study.
“I’m not big on cats, and I could care less about dead birds,” said Happel.
On WIZM earlier this week, a Georgetown biology professor who has studied cats outdoors in urban settings called the plan “horrible,” estimating that cats in the U.S. kill between 1.3 billion to 4 billion birds a year. He said the plan isn’t humane for the cats or the wildlife that suffers from them in the wild.
Some on the council argue that neutering the cats might reduce the chance that cats will kill birds or other animals, though the same professor called that claim untrue.