Mobile home park overrun with feral cats

Mobile home park overrun with feral cats

EUGENE, Ore. -- Shelters are full of felines. Strays roam the streets.  And Lane County's feral cat population keeps growing.

The issue has come to a head at one mobile home park in the Glenwood area.

Management and residents agree Twin Totem is overrun with 50 cats and kittens, but there is a disagreement about how to solve the problem.

Recently, manager Jay Sanger sent out a notice that residents were no longer allowed to leave food outside for the strays. It's an interpretation of the park's rules, which allow residents to keep two pets. Under law, if a person feeds a stray animal, the animal can legally be seen as their pets.

Sanger says it's one of his only options. He hopes removing the food supply will make the cats leave.

"Do I want the cats to die?" said Sanger. "Not personally, no. But can I be responsible to care and feed for and find homes for all the animals? I can't do that either."

Resident Dawn Martin is one resident who refuses to stop leaving food out.

"You'll see them on the ground, panting, hungry, and we're told nothing but water," she said. "I think people who have fed the cats and who feed the cats have a deeper compassion and cannot sit back and starve them."
 
The feeding issue has become a sticking point in the losing battle against the ever-expanding feral cat population. 

"I've been in Glenwood since '84," said Sanger. "It's always been a problem in Glenwood."

The problem, he said, has gotten worse since Lane County Animal Services no longer euthanizes stray animals.

"That is not within our mandate," said Tom Howard, LCAS manager. "We will not euthanize healthy, adult animals or feral cats because there are no codes governing them."

"The best solution is trap, neuter and return," said Howard.  "If we can control 70 percent of that population, those numbers will diminish by attrition."

Lane County, the City of Eugene and Greenhill Humane Society are now working with volunteer veterinarians to offer free spaying and neutering for feral animals. However, the cats must be returned to the neighborhood where they were captured.

But Sanger said that won't stop the current problem at Twin Totem.

"That means we have an established population of cats being fed outdoors and breaking park rules," he said.  "They're still going to make a mess and they're still going to yowl. They'll still do all of their behaviors. So it's no fix."

Martin supports the trap, neuter and return program.

"We have 50 kittens. In six months, these 50 kittens will have kittens. And the problem is epidemic at this point," she said.