Cedar City Council approves ‘saving’ ordinance to implement community chat program – St George News

CEDAR TOWN — The Cedar City Council has unanimously approved a community cat program in partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society that advocates say is a more humane and cost-effective method of reducing stray cat populations over time.

Two community cats seen at mass spaying and neutering event, Richfield, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, Cedar City News

A community cat is a feral or free-roaming cat that has no visible identification or microchip and has been neutered, vaccinated and fitted with an ear tag, as Cedar City News reported in September.

These cats are exempt from permit requirements and feeding bans and do not need to be held in an animal shelter for the mandatory five-day detention period unless they require veterinary care.

Under the program, free-roaming cats will be “humanely trapped, medically assessed, spayed or spayed, vaccinated, and fitted with an ear tip under anesthesia for identification” and then returned to their original location to “live their lives, unable to have kittens. and maintained by community caregivers,” according to a news release emailed to Cedar City News.

“(Community-based cat programs) provide a humane, cost-effective method to reduce stray cat populations over time, creating a healthier community for cats and people alike,” the statement read.

Arlyn Bradshaw, senior advisor for community relations at the Best Friends Animal Society, pitched the idea to the board last month and has been working with the Cedar City Animal Adoption Center and Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams ever since. to get the program approved.

A wild cat, date and place not specified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, Cedar City News

At the October 19 council meeting, council member Ron Riddle said he had reviewed studies evaluating community cat programs, and many found such programs to be a “good idea” if 75% of the free-ranging cat population can be captured and neutered, which is “extremely difficult.”

Center staff member Loralynn Williams said the program would reduce the overall number of feral cats.

While the center operates as a no-kill shelter, their consumption of cats has tripled since 2020, leading to an increase in euthanasia as the animals are unadoptable, Williams said.

“Best Friends has been a great partnership as they have come and saved our bucket multiple times so we don’t have to euthanize animals to make room for others,” she said.

When cat colony members are killed, it triggers the “vacuum effect,” where female cats come into heat more often and have more litters to compensate for the loss, Williams said. When feral cats are neutered and returned, it reduces the risk of them reproducing.

Community members borrowed traps from the center and collected captured feral cats, but Williams said there wasn’t much room to house them.

A feral cat perched on a wall, Cedar City, Utah, November 4, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

The Best Friends Animal Society agreed to fund the program for the first three years, but Council member Phillips asked how much it would cost to continue.

Williams said the early years are critical, which is why Best Friends covers those costs. Council member Tyler Melling said the costs of continuing the program, once implemented, will potentially be lower than maintaining the current situation.

At the Oct. 26 action meeting, Bradshaw said the ongoing costs are largely related to neutering and vaccinating cats, which is partially offset by the fact that shelters don’t have to house animals throughout the period of detention.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that would be, but most shelters find it to be either negligible or a minor increase,” he said.

Additionally, the city could be “aggressive” in seeking sterilization grants to cover some of the costs, Bradshaw said.

Kittens at Cedar City Animal Adoption Center, Cedar City, Utah, October 25, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

“And I will say – from a best friend’s point of view – as we come up with this as a three-year pilot project, we wouldn’t want to just give up on the city if all went well, and we could talk about a transition period “, he said.

The program could encourage residents to become as involved “like their community cats – they keep the mice away,” said Brittany McCabe, manager of the Cedar City Animal Adoption Center, in an interview with Cedar City News.

However, some residents also have legitimate concerns about the wild population, such as males marking their territory, she added.

The program will also reduce the number of kittens that local shelters take in over time. McCabe said many of the kittens they care for come from feral or semi-feral populations.

“I love kittens, but when you have 90, it’s really difficult,” she said.

Additionally, the program should reduce the spread of the disease in feral cats, McCabe said. While cats are sedated, they are vaccinated against rabies and other infectious diseases.

Caring for community cats

A feral cat named Spooky in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Nanci Mavilia, Cedar City News

Cedar City resident Nanci Mavilia cares for several colonies of free-roaming cats. His efforts are funded out of pocket and with the support of the center. Also, her daughter donated her birthday money to help animals.

She’s working to officially open a non-profit shelter called Stray Cats and Street Dogz, dedicated to Spooky, one of the wild felines she nurtures.

“They’re not vermin,” she said. “They are souls.”

As temperatures drop, Mavilia is working to ensure that the free-roaming cats she cares for can find respite from harsh winter conditions.

She has drilled a hole in a plastic storage container and plans to fill it with straw – as the blankets get wet and freeze – and cover it with a tarp to create a makeshift shelter, but may need the business owners permission to turn it off.

“(I) keep them warm and fed them because they deserve to eat,” she said.

Asked about the community cat trap and release program, Mavilia said that in some cases cats need to be moved to safer places. Some settle in pallets or forage for food in dumpsters where they risk injury and death from forklifts and large vehicles.

A wild cat in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Nanci Mavilia, Cedar City News

The center is considering locations for a potential cat colony so the animals can be relocated, McCabe said, adding the idea is yet to be discussed.

Mavilia said her goal is to rescue as many loose cats as possible.

“My love goes out to the wild population – the homeless population,” she said.

Details on how the program works can be found in the city ordinances in “Chapter 11: Animal Control”, Section 11-IV-7.

To see the initial discussion that took place in September on the Cedar City Council website, click here.

To watch Williams defend the program on October 19, click here. Council members can be seen voting on October 26 here.

Photo gallery

Copyright St.George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.