Knoxville city leaders are trying to tackle the overpopulation of feral cats in our communities by making changes to a current ordinance.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, homeowners and animal advocates shared their concerns about the possible changes.
Currently, stray cats that are captured by animal control are neutered and vaccinated. If they’re not adopted or sent to a rescue, they’re eventually euthanized.
However, city leaders are considering changes where cats picked up by animal control will be neutered, vaccinated and released back into the community.
The Randazzos went to Tuesday night’s city council meeting to hear what was discussed. They’ve lived in the Parkridge neighborhood for three years and while they love gardening, they’ve come across problems.
“We do have a lot of cat colonies in our neighborhood,” said Lynne Randazzo.
The family says they’ve worked with cat rescue groups, “I hope the current ordinance, if it passes, that they try to make it more of a multifaceted approach. It must be accompanied by educational campaigns, possibly other ordinances like restricting food being left out for feral cats.”
The ordinance still has to pass a second reading at the next city council meeting on Jan. 15, 2019.
“I think most of the members felt that what is happening, which is capture and eventually euthanize, is not working. So we’re trying to find a better solution. I don’t know if this is perfect, there might need to be a few tweaks done but we’re willing to work on that,” said 3rd District city council member, Seema Singh-Perez.
Young-Williams Animal Center says Knoxville is the biggest city in the state not doing this program and CEO, Janet Testerman, believes it’s a lifesaving initiative.
“We take in such a high number of cats, thousands of cats every year, that less than 4-percent of cats are ever reclaimed or an owner comes looking for them,” Testerman said.
Animal advocates say that spay/neuter is the future of animal welfare and these changes to the ordinance will send cats back into the community healthier.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel. We know this works throughout the country, has worked throughout the country, to both lower intake in the shelter but also to decrease the population of free roaming cats in the community,” added Testerman.
Though some homeowners still have concerns ranging from possible hoarding to health issues.
“There’s a huge problem of overpopulation and we’re just trying to search for something better for society and better for cats,” said Singh-Perez.
Young-Williams Animal Center telling us included in this initiative, their Pet Resource Center will have deterrents available as a way to keep problematic cats out of a homeowner’s yard or garden. Testerman says spaying and neutering changes the behavior of a cat which helps with nuisance concerns.
Knoxville city council members meet again Jan. 15, in the meantime they’re hoping to hear from those in the community with their questions, concerns, and thoughts about this possible ordinance change.