Councilors weigh options for feral cats

The city of Lebanon won’t be hiring any cat wranglers in the near future, but councilors and staff have some suggestions for citizens dealing with problematic felines.

Robert Furlow brought up the issue to his fellow Lebanon City Councilors at their Feb. 14 meeting.

“I’ve been contacted by some folks in town concerning feral cats, stray cats,” Furlow said.

He said he was not able to assist them effectively, adding that he encouraged them to speak with city staff and to speak at a City Council meeting.

“They indicated they had done that but there is a gap in our compliance requirements as it deals with cats,” Furlow said.

The citizens who contacted him were also reticent to speak at the council meeting because they thought there would not be an effective solution.

“I did speak with (City Manager) Gary (Marks) about this issue and sent it over to (Councilor) Wayne (Reiskamp) because it’s folks in our area that brought the item up,” Furlow said.

“I’m here asking for some counsel and some history so I might know how to respond to the issue.

“It all gets wrapped in the whole shelter issue around cats. Dealing with spaying and neutering and rounding up. So that’s the issue and I look forward to your counsel.”

Councilor Rebecca Grizzle suggested that the problem is not unique to Lebanon.

“You have people on all sides of the issue – that cats are meant to be free, and you have people like me who are really angry that your cat is in my yard,” Grizzle said.

“It’s a huge can of worms that there is no solution for that I’m aware of.”

She noted there are individuals and volunteer organizations that capture cats in the Lebanon area to spay and neuter them, then release them again.

“There are some really great humanitarian efforts being made out there but I don’t know a legislative answer to the cat problem,” Grizzle said.

“It makes me crazy.”

Councilor Jason Bolen agreed that there was not a solution.

“That’s the last thing the city needs to do as far as legislation goes, is get involved in wrangling cats,” he said.

“This has been a problem forever and will be a problem forever as long as there are cats and as long as cats go in heat.

“So spay and neuter your pet friends and talk to your neighbors about your problems but I just don’t see the city having any resources or manpower to do anything effective about this.”

The issue of feral cats has come up once before in his time with the city, Marks said, referring to a problem with cats at Safeway that arose a couple of years ago.

Private individuals caught the cats, spayed and neutered them and found them a home with some people who lived in the countryside.

Bolen said people trapping other people’s cats can cause upset too.

“I’ve had colleagues of mine in other communities where they’ve tried to tackle this issue,” Marks said.

“City councils have regretted that. People become very emotional about their cats. I had one colleague where they decided it would be a smart idea to start the licensing of cats and it tore the community apart. It was worse than fluoride, and that’s saying something.”

City Attorney Tre Kennedy told Furlow the Feral Cat Association of Oregon and other organizations that work outside the government may be able to help.


Cat Answers
Got cat concerns? Here are some answers, or resources to find them:

  • In the Lebanon/Albany area, cat spays (female) cost about $130 minimum. Cat neuters (male) cost about $70 minimum.
  • SafeHaven Humane Society in Albany has a “Cats Count” voucher program for low-income households. Cost is $25 per voucher, plus pain medication costs paid to the veterinarian. Apply for a voucher at SafeHaven, 33071 HWY 34 SE , or call 541-928-2789  for more information.
  • Kitty Angel Team Adoption (KATA) in Foster rescues abandoned cats in dire circumstances, and has access to low-cost spay/neuter programs for low-income households. Contact Vicki Lindley for more information at 541-367-7575.
  • The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon in Portland provides year-round spay/neuter programs for feral cats, usually free of charge. Visit www.FeralCats.com or call 503-797-2606 for more information.
  • The Willamette Humane Society in Salem occasionally offers free or low-cost spay/neuters for strays and feral cats. Visit www.whs4pets.com or call 503-585-5900 for more information.
  • Jodie Harmen, director of the Happy Cat Club of Albany, focuses on reducing the stray and feral population through spay/neuter. She says it’s hardest to obtain affordable surgeries in the area. For more information or assistance, visit www.bluestray.org.
  • If you have friends with farms, they might be interested in adopting feral cats as “barn cats.” Relocated cats MUST be contained in their new surrounding for a minimum of  two weeks to ensure they do not run away.