These Feral Cats Have Got To Go!

“I have a problem with feral cats. Can you help me?”

This question came up recently, and has in the past as well. A fellow was talking to me the other day about a trailer park he manages. The tenants, as kind hearted and good intentioned as they may be, were letting cats go wild left and right.

“They pick up strays, but don’t have the means to take care of them. Then the cats go wild as they search for food. The males begin fighting over territories and will spray everywhere. Sometimes on people’s porches or sides of their trailers. They get in trash, under trailers and rip down insulation, and defecate everywhere.”

Typically, the local Animal Control Officer is  responsible for handling issues with domesticated animals. There appeared  to be some contention, or possible misunderstanding, between the landlord and the Town in this situation.

Animal Control Officers (ACO) are mandated by the State, and on your town’s payroll, to specifically handle domestic animal issues.

Animal Damage Control (ADC), like myself, are licensed and regulated by the state. However, we only handle wildlife calls, and work as private entities.  

Folks natural get confused since the terminology and acronyms are so similar. I wrote previously about this topic here. Back to the cats though, I reached out my personal local ACO to try and get some ideas. The solution was deceptively simple. 

 The State of Maine employs a statewide Animal Welfare program. The primary focus of the program is handling animal welfare and abuse complaints. However, they are willing to step in and assist if typical channels are not helping to resolve the issue.

My advice:

“Contact your local ACO one more time, issuing a written complaint. If nothing happens after that, contact Animal Welfare and they should be able to step in and help you with the feral cats.”  Even though I’m not authorized to handle domestic animals, it’s always nice to help point folks in the right direction. 

A Brief Word About Saving and Killing Cats:

As an ADC agent, I deal with wildlife. I don’t generally get directly involved with domestic issues. However, I am familiar with feral cat problems and how they relate to wildlife concerns. Please keep in mind, this blog is not meant to serve as a platform to argue.  I would like to present a couple common concerns folks have.

Feral cats and their control are a controversial issue. Often the problems stem from a lack of people being responsible. Then the native wildlife suffers. The ecosystems suffer. The cats suffer. Eventually it ironically comes back around to people again who suffer.

Trap-Neuter-Release programs are hailed as a great way to curb rising populations of cats. They fail to address the already high impacts of cats gone feral, which are an invasive species, on native wildlife populations.

Euthanasia is a humane alternative to cats dying of illness, sickness, disease, cars, or wild predation. However, you would need a massive eradication campaign to bring cat numbers down enough to restore balance in the population.

While I often don’t fully agree with Peta, I did come across a rather unbiased and well written report on the concerns of the Trap-Neuter-Release program. The report fully acknowledges the positives and pitfalls of the program, while remaining surprisingly unbiased and only mildly emotional.

If I could only fault them in one area, it’s that they don’t put enough emphasis on individual responsibility to care for cats correctly in the first place. Until that issue is addressed and corrected, the controversy will continue, and no one will win.

Peta: Trap, Neuter, Return, and Monitor Programs for Feral Cats: Doing It Right  

Below is the original blog post the downloadable report came from.

While Maine Wildlife Management does not directly handle domestic issues, we are willing to help folks out anytime they are having animal problems. Give us a call today if you have questions or concerns that are not being addressed. We can get you the help you need, or help answer your questions.

Want to learn more? Click here and stay updated!

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Showing 6 comments
  • Jay

    Great advice as usual. I agree that it will ultimately take people being responsible for how they care for their cats, and strays, before this problem can be resolved.

    • randy

      It’s often the case, unfortunately.

  • friends of feral felines

    can you provide more info as to where this is? we work primarily in southern me but have contacts in other areas of the state – ironically one group is working in another trailer park that has the same problem –

    and an FYI – especially where trailer parks are concerned – it is the humans who are the problem – they get this cute little kitten – don’t get it spayed or neutered and then let it outside to run wild and it mates with another un-neutered cat and the process begins – don’t blame the cats – its people who start this chain – not cats. they just want to be loved and taken care of – the owners are the ones responsible for this getting out of control.
    and the trailer park – make rules that cats can’t go outside – that’ll cut down on the problem right off – if you can dictate that they need to be spayed or neutered – even better!! just like licensing dogs – there are reasons for some rules that benefit all –

    • randy

      LOL, it was a human problem from the start. Cats were once wild until we removed them from the wild for our own utility and desires. In my line of work, the only reason we have human wildlife complaints are because humans know how to pick up a phone and complain about animals. Imagine if animals could complain about us? lol. I’m not well read on the subject, as this was a fairly isolated incident. Domestic animals are handled by our Local ACO. This was in Northern Maine, but I don’t remember where exactly, or even have the contact info anymore. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  • Heath Welms

    If you do not intend to keep the cat, take her to a local animal shelter or rescue group, where she’ll have a chance to get adopted. The best thing you can do for the feral cats in your neighborhood is vaccinate them, prevent them from reproducing and then leave them where they are.

    • randy

      I agree with the vaccination part, but not the part about leaving them there in the wild. It’s an odd situation where a once wild animal was captured and domesticated to suit our desires as humans. Now they are reverting back to the wild, but it’s like introducing an exotic species into an ecosystem. I haven’t looked much into the cat issue, as I don’t handle domestic animals. It seems to me, in general, to be a lack of responsible pet ownership that’s maybe out of control. Interesting anyway, thanks for sharing.

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