Glendale council hits the paws button on a feral cat ordinance

March 26, 2014

Glendale — The Common Council on Monday reviewed possible steps to regulate the keeping of feral cat colonies, but decided the issue is not pressing, and model ordinances from other communities are unenforceable in the city.

Feral cat colonies are bands of non-domesticated cats which live outside and at times rely on humans for shelter or sustenance. In an effort to keep the cats safe and prevent the spread of disease, local caretakers partner with "sponsors," such as animal shelters or humane societies, which provide discounted vaccinations, sterilizations, and other care.

Some cities, like Milwaukee and Minneapolis, have created feral cat colony ordinances which require caregivers to register the colony they manage with a local sponsor, make sure all the cats receive vaccinations and sterilizations, and monitor the health of the colony's members, among other regulations.

Director of Inspection Services Collin Johnson brought the matter to the council's attention Monday after recently investigating complaints of a cat colony. What he found on the property in question was a colony which had been registered with a local shelter.

Johnson said he has seen other cat colonies around the city, including a small pack in the city's public works yard, and that an ordinance patterned after Milwaukee's could "potentially head off any future issues."

"Large cat colonies can be very impactful to birds and rodents, and (cats) tend to use garden areas and potted plants and flower beds for their litter boxes," Johnson said. "A colony of eight to 15 cats can do quite a bit of damage."

Johnson said a clarification on the issue could also help city staff determine regulated care of a cat colony from a case of animal hoarding.

Acting Mayor JoAnn Shaw said that after a brief conversation the council decided to lay the topic over until such time as feral cat colonies become a citywide issue. Shaw added that city staffing is already tight and the regulation of cat colonies is a task for which the city does not have resources.

"There's no manpower," Shaw said.

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