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Scottdale deals with feral cats

Karl Polacek | Trib Total Media
Feral cats in the yard of the house at 200 Park St. in Scottdale photographed Oct. 10.

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Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
 

Many communities are dealing with the problem with feral cats — including Scottdale Borough.

An abandoned house at 200 Park St. has become home to a colony of feral cats.

Monica Eicher, who lives at 212 Park St., said she has seen as many as nine cats in and around the house.

“The cats sprayed (urine), pooped in my yard and destroyed flowers,” Eicher said. She has a dog and had a cat who died in 2011.

She called Scottdale Borough in June and was given the telephone number of the Scottdale-based Friends of Homeless Felines.

She called the number and was told that the group would trap the cats, vaccinate and neuter or spay them, and then return them to the location where they were trapped.

Eicher said the group asked her if she would volunteer to feed the cats, out of her own pocket, when they were returned.

“Why would you do that?” she asked.

Eicher is a single mother and does not have a lot of disposable income to spend on feeding nine cats.

Rob Eby of Friends of Homeless Felines said TNR (trap, neuter and return) is the only real way to reduce and eliminate the feral cat problem.

He said someone near the Park Street site has volunteered to feed and water the cats.

He suggested people, like Eicher, who want to keep the cats away from their property, use a commercial repellent like those sold in pet supply stores. Many of the repellents are made with citrus, something cats avoid.

Eicher said the problems with the spray are the cost ($12 to $15 a bottle) and the fact that spray is washed away whenever it rains.

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, the only long-term way to control the populations of feral cats is to trap, neuter and return.

However, TNR does little to immediately eliminate the problems for property owners who may live near the site the colony has picked for a home.

A larger problem is that the colonies exist where there is food and shelter. They may find an abandoned house or structure and forage for food in a nearby dump or in garbage left for pickup in plastic bags.

Scottdale has an ordnance that requires residents to place their garbage, especially table scraps, in closed containers, According to borough Manager Angelo Pallone, residents who do not place their garbage in cans will be cited, if discovered. Pallone said enforcement will begin after residents have at least 30 days to purchase a garbage can and after the borough council gives its approval.

Pallone believes a good way to rid the borough of stray cats and wild animals, like skunks, is to remove the source of food. Once that happens, the invaders will move back out to the country where sources of food are more available.

Supporters of the cats believe the borough is trying to have the feral cats killed.

At September's meeting, Pallone repeatedly stated that the borough was not seeking to kill cats. He said, however, that borough residents have the right to be able to maintain their property without having to deal with the nuisance of cat colonies.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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