Faribault considers how to herd cats

Faribault has a big cat problem. The city has too many feral cats. That’s setting up a debate over whether the problem goes away by killing them or capturing them.

The Faribault Daily News reports that the City Council was expected to discuss a proposal to trap and kill the cats, but then the Minnesota Humane Society offered $25,000 to help the problem, with the condition that the cats had to be caught, spayed and neutered, then released back into the general population.

The best guess is that there are about 300 feral cats in the city. The Humane Society’s pledge would take care of about 190 of them, according to the city’s police chief.

The problem? If the city takes the humane approach to the cats, it violates its own ordinance. Cats have to be kept indoors or on a leash.

“It would be inappropriate for this governing board to ticket them for letting their animals run free when we do,” said Rowan.

Besides violating its own law, which can be amended, Bohlen also pointed out the problem of redundancy when it comes to re-releasing.

“If we capture 20 feral cats in an area, spay, neuter and re-release them, we are catching the same cats again, and we still have the feral cat population. It doesn’t necessarily address the issue that we don’t really want the cats,” he said. “A lot of people are against having these cats in our community.”

Bohlen, while presenting the proposal he discovered but hours earlier, also asked the council to consider where the cats would be re-released as part of the program. He expressed his fear that captured cats would end up in the same areas, which does not solve the problem. He also said they cannot dump cats in the county or in another city. Councilor Kay Duchene agreed.

“If we do a catch and release, that does not decrease the population running around,” she said.

Only two people spoke at the Council meeting. One said the cats have got to go.

“Domestic cats that are allowed to become feral are an invasive species,” said David Gross, a Rice County resident who lives near French Lake. “They don’t belong in the environment. They are bred to be kept by humans for human purposes.”

Gross called for the feral cats to be “exterminated” even boasting about his successes with his “22-caliber solution” killing feral cats on his own farm.

Well, then. What now for kitty?

The Council will ask the Humane Society if it’ll still provide the money if the cats aren’t re-released. That’s a likely non-starter if they’re to be killed, but it could encourage shelters in the region to take in those that are rounded up.

Last September, however, one shelter gave up on trying to save the cats. It said it was $30,000 in debt by trying to offer a humane solution to Faribault’s problem.