Kings County officials searching for solutions for feral cat problem

LEMOORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two south valley cities say they're having a major problem with feral cats.

And one solution they're considering is to make it illegal for citizens to feed them.

The city of Lemoore is a quiet town home to many military personnel, and now, apparently, a large number of feral cats.

"Usually, we have maybe 10 people at our council meetings, but that night we had a room full," Lemoore city councilman Ray Madrigal said.

Madrigal is talking about a council meeting earlier this month where the feral cat problem was addressed in study session form.

One sample ordinance included making feeding feral cats illegal and it was fought strongly by community members.

City staff will do additional research, talk with rescues like Valley Animal Haven and revisit the issue later this year.

"I think we understand the need to do something," Madrigal said. "And it needs to be a reasonable approach that both sides of the issue can live with, and also that the city can afford."

The feral cat feeding ban is an idea being weighed by both Lemoore and Hanford, but it's not one Kings County Animal Services manager Cassie Heffington supports.

Instead, she favors proper colony management, where the feeder takes responsibility for the animals and trap, neuter and release, or TNR.

"If they choose to be a colony caregiver, if they choose to feed the cats, to be trapping them and neutering them and re-releasing them into the population," she said.

"So they go back into that population, and the more you saturate that population and that colony with fixed animals, then they begin to depopulate on their own."

For a $25 fee, the Kings County Animal Shelter will fix a feral cat.

But as of last year, they've stopped taking in healthy adult feral cats, so the cities have stopped sending them over.

The problem persists, the debate continues but one thing is for sure that it will take collaboration to do what's best for the cats of Kings County.
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