Feral Cat Issue Prompts Concern from Royal Oak Resident

Resident advocates for trap-neuter-release program in Royal Oak.

Credit: Patch File Photo
Credit: Patch File Photo

A group of residents asked the Royal Oak City Commission to consider a "feral cat ordinance" during public comment at Monday's city commission meeting. 

Julie Szczepanski, a Royal Oak resident, attended the meeting. Szczepanski is active volunteer with animal rescue group Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren (PAWW). 

Szczepanski wrote this letter to Royal Oak Patch:

It has come to my attention that the City of Royal Oak has been ticketing residents for feeding and sheltering feral cats. 

This is an outrage to me and the animal rescue folks I work with (Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren). Our volunteers have been working for the past several years to trap, neuter and release feral cats in the Royal Oak area.

Kind residents have provided food and shelter for some of these cats, which is the humane thing to do. This cat population is not getting larger. Our diligent work has helped decrease the growth. Studies have shown that 82 percent of the population feel letting cats live out their lives outside is the right thing to do. Almost 100 percent of feral cats brought to animal shelters are euthanized and starving the cats or letting them freeze in the winter is also not the answer.

Many of the feral cats you see in the Royal Oak area should have one of their ear tips clipped off, which All About Animals Rescue does when they neuter feral cats. This helps our organization know which cats need to be neutered and which still need to be neutered.

You can also help our cause by helping trap, neuter, release in your own backyard. Information on how to help can be found on the website www.alleycat.org .

Learn how to build a cat shelter or donate to help other cats get neutered by donating to www.allaboutanimalsrescue.org or donate to help with veterinary services for kittens that are young enough to be socialized and find adoptive homes by going to Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren website at www.paawarren.org  Another helpful strategy would be to attend the Royal Oak City Council Meetings and advocate to prevent further ticketing.

Also, we have been teaching the TNR class at All About Animals Rescue (AAAR) the second Sunday of every month. People can come learn more about it and then they are officially certified to do it themselves.

There is a grant for Oakland county through "Oakcats" that makes the spay and neuter free to Oakland county residents for a limited time. This is a great thing for people with multiple cats! It may motivate them to get up and do something faster. Oakcats asks residents to continue to manage their colonies (big or small) once they've been neutered. It is vital to the TNR process and includes providing food and shelter. This actual keeps the cats healthy (less disease) and keeps them from going into garbage or hunting backyard birds etc. It makes for a more peaceful neighborhood all together. 

Another very important fact is the cats keep the mice and rats away by their scent. Nobody wants a rat problem!

Julie Szczepanski

Bob July 09, 2013 at 09:11 AM
They are either feral, or they are not. By feeding feral cats you either take responsibility for that cat or it's no different than feeding rats and other wild vermin. So keep your cat from crapping on our lawn. We should have the right eliminate these nuisance, feral cats as they are simply nothing more than vermin.
Nate McAlpine July 09, 2013 at 09:38 AM
I definitely support this! If somebody wants to feed feral cats, let them. It's much better than keeping the cats in a cage or euthanizing them. I don't really see a downside. Also, feeding cats is much different than feeding vermin. Vermin are destructive and reproduce. If the cats are fixed, they do neither of those.
Bob July 09, 2013 at 10:03 AM
They are vermin when they crap all over your lawn and in your landscaping beds. They are either wild or they are not. Quit feeding them. These jerks are also feeding rats by feeding the cats. They should be ticketed with extreme prejudice.
Karen Stauble July 09, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Trap, neuter and release is the only responsible way to deal with the feral cat population. They only exist because of irresponsible people who let their cats wander and have kittens or who move from the area and leave their pets behind. Eventually they become feral or their offspring are feral. When feral cats are left along they fight for territory and over females in heat which results in disease and horrible injuries. Killing them only opens up their territory to be filled by other homeless cats and you have an endless cycle.
Sam N. July 09, 2013 at 10:25 AM
I just read an article recently about the large feral cat population in Disneyland. Disneyland neuters and vaccinates them, but decide to keep them around. Apparently the cats are well received as they are very effective at keeping the rodent population down.
Judy Gates July 09, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Starting a community wide TNR program is the way to go. Ferndale had a TNR class at their public library earlier in the year to educate their community. (AAAR gave the presentation) Right now with the Oakcats program in Oakland county (available thru Oct 1, 2013) it is $0 to TNR these Oakland County community cats through All About Animals...you must take the TNR class that is offered at their facility in Warren once a month for $10..the next class is Sunday, July 14. It is a 2 1/2 hour class that allows you to bring in up to 3 community cats per day without an appointment for spay/neuter, they also have tons of traps that you can borrow (take the class for more details) The regular fee for other non-Oakland County cats is $25. It has been proven that catch and remove DOES NOT WORK! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DVEQw7_04k&feature=share hopefully the video link does work to show how TNR does. Hopefully Royal Oak will join with the TNR movement to help control the feral cat population. I am sure if All About Animals is contacted to hold a TNR class somewhere in Royal Oak, they would be happy to! TNR of the Royal Oak Community cats could be part of the solution to the rat and rodent problems of the city along with decreasing the fee roaming cat population of the city! Come on Royal Oak what have you got to loose...
Bob July 09, 2013 at 11:20 AM
I'm sorry. I don't want to come off as a heartless jerk, but there seems to be a ton of contradictions here. We already have a rat problem. We have many feral cats. We have people feeding feral cats. The city does not want us to leave food out for wild/feral/domesticated animals because the rats take advantage of that food. Yet the article states we should feed the feral cats so they don't eat cute little birds. Will a well fed cat eat the rat? Sterilization is the only way to reduce the feral cats and solve the rat problem, yet the higher population of feral cats has done little to solve our rat problem. If anything, it's the owls and falcons that have come to town that have helped with the rat issue. Coyotes would also help.
Chris Shelton July 09, 2013 at 02:57 PM
The TNR program teaches caregivers of feral colonies to feed cats off the ground (where food doesn't attract insects or rodents) and to feed for an hour a day then remove the food. This feeding pattern nourishes the cats to prevent disease and fleas whilst not providing remains to attract other creatures. Cats are opportunistic feeders and will eat food provided before they will eat other wildlife. Furthermore, the mere scent of cats will drive rodents off due to instinctual fear of being made prey. TNR works and there is plenty of data to support both it's effectiveness in reducing overall cat population over time as well as diminishing the behaviors (roaming, spraying, mating, etc) that frustrate residents and increase calls to animal control.
Michelle Dimaria July 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM
There are a lot of ways to deter cats from coming into your yard without causing them any harm. Check out this link for many of the ways to do it.. http://www.alleycat.org/Page.aspx?pid=375 TNR is the only humane option, and it DOES work!
Judy Gates July 09, 2013 at 05:10 PM
here is another Alley Cat Allies article that may be helpful http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=375 TNR does reduce the population of feral cats over time by stopping the breeding. It also stops a lot of the nuisance behavior such as fighting and spraying.
Sherry Lane July 09, 2013 at 06:13 PM
feral or just some homeowner that let's there cat out to roam the neighborhood, and use my flowerbed and grass as there toilet.. If my dog has to have a license.. SO DOES THE CAT, and feeding them just encourages the rats that are pretty bad in this city... if you people think I'm going spend money on a class and try to cage these cats you are out of your minds
Judy Gates July 09, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Sherry it isn't about having all citizens take a class and start doing TNR...it's about providing the education for citizens who do see or care for these cats that aren't aware there is something they can do. there is a way to stop the breeding....obviously TNR wouldn't pertain to you! As far as "owned" cats out on the street, I agree...if you cannot keep your owned cat on your own personal property (and yes there are ways to do this as well by using a tie out or building a cat enclosure or putting up cat fencing) residents should be ticketed....dogs cannot roam the neighborhoods why should cats! My cats are indoor only including a former feral that my mother cared for in her colony in Detroit until she passed away....and no he doesn't miss the out doors.....
Michelle Dimaria July 09, 2013 at 08:36 PM
I completely agree Judy.. Actually going out and doing TNR clearly isn't for everyone, but as a general rule I believe most people if given the option between euthanizing a cat or having it spayed/neutered and returned would choose the latter.. If just a fraction of those people were aware of how to help and chose to act, the problem would be solved. :).
tucker July 10, 2013 at 09:36 AM
I'd like to see the city address the bigger issue- RATS. I work in downtown RO and rarely see a cat, I see rats almost every day
Jack Manning July 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM
There are some residents who should qualify for this Program.
l.c. July 10, 2013 at 03:29 PM
typical knee jerk reactions.goes to show Joe public could use an education on the benefits of a cat.did you know Mark Twain kept over 70 at one time? also if the trend among cities is trap & release then there must be a reason.
Mike Madigan July 10, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I guess I must be part of the 18 percent that thinks most kitties should live indoors.
Nate McAlpine July 11, 2013 at 07:45 AM
Cats are natural hunters. They love to roll in the grass and dirt and talk to the chipmunks and birds (before trying to eat them). My cats love to go outside and I'd never deprive them of that. We do have a fenced in yard that they stay in, so they're not just running the town. My neighbor's cat has free range of the town, but she always hangs out near the house. I don't see any problems with outdoor cats at all.
Judy Gates July 13, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Here is an opportunity to take that TNR class at AAAR this Sunday, July 14.... http://www.allaboutanimalsrescue.org/ai1ec_event/tnr-trap-neuter-return-training-12/?instance_id=3906
Karen Frazer July 14, 2013 at 08:06 AM
TNR works! My group did a group of 11 cats in Troy 4 months ago, gal has been feeding for about 2 years, since that time the "rat" population is NO LONGER! The "feral" cats took care of the problem of the rats. As far as cats using flower beds there are herbs that will deter them.
Judy Gates July 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Nate McAlpine July 29, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Have there been any updates on this ordinance since this blog was published?
SHERRI August 27, 2013 at 08:12 PM
The bottom line is education. TNR works, I'm a feral cat colony caregiver, and out of the 13 cats I have TNR'd only 6 remain. Nature has taken it course, whether they have been hit by a car, or died from other causes. I can tell you the 6 that remain are the healthiest, nicest looking cats around. I smile when I see the tipped ear because that is the universal sign to everyone that cat has been "fixed" given a rabies shot and is cared for by someone. No one has to worry about that cat contributing to the "feral population" There is no runny eyes, noses or starving cats -all are beautiful and healthy-and as far as some of the comments about cats pooping in landscaping and yards? I see more dog poop on front lawns and landscaping from dog walkers that don't pick up after their dogs than I ever see from feral cats. Not to mention raccoons and skunks make quite a mess themselves and can be nasty and rabid.


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