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Cat plan drawing yowls of protest

The change in municipal code recently passed by the Port Orchard City Council banning the feeding of feral cats has drawn criticism from cat lovers and cat-care professional alike.

According to Linda Dennis, who works on her own to spay and neuter the area’s feral cat population, there is a better way.

“I find a law like this very discouraging and highly uneducated,” Dennis said in a recent letter to the editor. “Instead of this backwards law, pass a law getting to the cause of cat overpopulation.”

Dennis advocated a program that is popular worldwide — Trap, Neuter, Release, or TNR. She said the best way to control the cat population is to sterilize as many feral cats as possible to break the cycle of reproduction.

According to Nancy Wolf, director of the Peninsula Spay/Neuter Program (PSNP), starving cats created stress within the population which can actually increase the number of litters a female cat has in a year — up to four.

“It’s mean,” Wolf said.

Wolf, who started PSNP almost four years ago, lives on 2.5 acres off Burley-Bethel Road. She has “quite a few” cats, some of which are strays left to fend for themselves by neighbors, some of which are feral.

She has lived here for 17 years and had to refinance her home to pay for the cyclone, hot-wired fence that surrounds her property to keep the cats inside.

She said that not only does it not make sense to starve the feral cat population, but leaving the Humane Society to deal with the problem is ineffective as well.

According to Wolf, the very definition of a feral cat is one that is unsocialized and can’t be adopted. They are cats that have reverted to their wild state and live outdoors.

She said these cats are usually killed.

According to a pamphlet on TNR, when cats are spayed and neutered, “The breeding stops. Populations are gradually reduced. The annoying behaviors of breeding cats, like yowling or spraying, stop. The cats are vaccinated against disease.”

“I’m afraid (Kitsap County) is a little behind the times,” Wolf said. Both Dennis and Wolf encourage property owners with a feral cat population to contact a spay/neuter clinic first. Wolf said cities across the county have found this method very effective.

“We’ll be happy to spay or neuter at no charge,” Wolf said. Wolf also has experience catching the cats.

“Starving the cats is cruel, inhumane, uncaring, unnecessary and barbaric,” Dennis said. “If someone is kind enough to feed to starving strays and is truing to get them fixed, they shouldn’t be penalized, they should be thanked. To let the cats starve solves nothing — they will be desperate for food and roaming the neighborhood. In the past seven years I have spent many thousands of my own money and many voluntary hours helping to get cats fixed.

“We can’t kill every animal that annoys us,” Dennis said. “What does that say about us?”

“It’s a controversial decision and the public should have had some input,” Wolf said.

For more information call PSNP at (253) 884-1543 or visit www.psnp.org.

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