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Feral cats run rampant in Lodi

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Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 5:54 am, Thu Oct 28, 2010.

They are aggressive, abundant and antisocial. And for reasons both economic and biological, feral cats are making themselves at home around Lodi.

Animal control is inundated with calls about the cats, and working to find a solution to the ongoing problem by encouraging people to either drop them off at the shelter or offer them a rebate on veterinary bills for fixing the cats. Fleas carried by feral cats living under Victor School recently caused forced students to be moved from several classrooms after the pests were found inside. They also reside in the city.

“They are all over town,” said officer Jennifer Bender, of the Lodi Animal Shelter. “They are more on the Eastside than anything.”

The Eastside is an economically depressed area of town, and many residents there are unable to afford to pay for medical costs for pets, so they get abandoned there, she said.

Feral cats, unlike domesticated ones, were born wild and have had limited contact with humans. The cats will hiss and swipe at people who attempt to get close, Bender said. Their numbers are increasing due to people abandoning their pets during a sour economy, and the cats naturally reproducing once on their own. A female cat can produce up to three litters per year. Each litter can have between two and eight kittens.

Fortunately, the feral cats aren’t making their homes in parks and nature areas around Lodi, said parks superintendent Steve Dutra.

Keeping trash cleaned and emptied regularly prevents the cats from gorging on a free meal, he said. The landscaping done by workers also keeps critters the cats like to snack on from gaining a strong foothold in the parks around town, Dutra said.

Century and Emerson parks are two examples of city parks where houses are right next to the area, but they aren’t having problems with feral cats due to the city’s maintenance efforts, he said.

However, people still do use the Lodi Lake nature preserve as a dumping ground for their unwanted pets such as rabbits and turtles, he said.

“People abandoning pets out there is always a concern,” he said.

Although the problem is a serious one, animal control is working to address the problem despite its strained budget. The Trap, Neuter and Return program is a combined effort of the Abandoned Cat Team, Animal Friends Connection and the Lodi Animal Shelter to address the outbreak of homeless cats.

The program works by offering a voucher to people who take the cat in to get spayed or neutered, and release it back into the wild. The Lodi Animal Shelter also accepts cats being dropped off directly at the complex.

Neutering the cats enables them to continue to live without the risk of adding to the population outburst, Bender said. Cats taken directly to the shelter will be held for several days, but can be euthanized if no one claims them after a period of time.

Residents who are caring for a stray cat by offering it food or an outside shelter should also bring it in to be neutered and released, she said.

While feral cats are not a good choice for house pets due to their aggressive and skittish nature, they can still be desirable, Bender said.

“A lot of growers will use them to control mice in their fields,” she said.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@ lodinews.com.

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  • Joe Baxter posted at 8:48 am on Fri, Oct 29, 2010.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    Cats or rats? The feral cats (and domestic cats) help keep the rat population in check.

  • Manuel Martinez posted at 10:51 am on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    Manuel Martinez Posts: 641

    What would October be without feral cats running around? :]

  • Alice Dodson posted at 9:14 am on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    Alice Dodson Posts: 20

    I actually was able to tame one feral cat. Got him neutered, shots and licensed. He is now and has been one of the most loveable cats in the world.
    Feral cats live what they learn. Most of them cannot be tamed and carry diseases. This is not by their choice.
    For every cat caught and spayed or neutered, there is one out there having between 2 and 8 kittens.
    Economic conditions may have a lot to do with the drop offs, but do people even care that dropping off their cats will enable them to become wild and breed with the feral cats, causing even more ferals? I don't think so.
    Animals will do what they need to do, just like people, to survive. Please, people, do not drop off your animals. At least take them to as facility where they stand a chance at life.

  • Marcia Savage posted at 8:46 am on Wed, Oct 27, 2010.

    Marcia Savage Posts: 9

    My porch was invaded by 5 or 6 feral cats one stormy night several years ago. Today's article doesn't tell people EXACTLY what they need to do to round them up and bring them in to Animal Control. It's not as easy as it sounds.

    I went to Robinson's Feed Store and rented 2 traps after having fed the cats for a few days to gain their trust (somewhat.) I withdrew the food, then only put it in the traps, catching one in each trap. Brought that batch in to Animal Control, then repeated the process two more times. Animal Control does not have the manpower or time to do this and will not do this for you (or reimburse you for renting the traps. ) There are a LOT of stray cats now, but even if they're "Trapped, Neutered and Returned" that means they're still free to roam our yards and use our gardens, pots and planters for their toilets, not to mention the flea problem. YUCK! I say all cats (unless used for vermin control) shoud be "indoor cats" --just like mine.



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