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Grants Pass considers 'kitty cap' to crack down on feral cats

The City Council is considering placing a limit on the number of cats one household can have.

Posted: Oct 9, 2019 12:05 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2019 12:16 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — How many cats is too many cats? The City of Grants Pass is looking at new regulations for a "kitty cap" that could decide the question within city limits, in an effort to reduce the area's burgeoning feral cat population.

“There are literally tens of thousands of cats,” County Public Health Director Mike Weber said in a city council workshop on Monday.

According to a statement from the City, council members are largely in support of the kitty cap, saying that it was necessary to finally address the cat issue. However, the statement did not address specifics on what that cap would be.

For years, Grants Pass has asked Josephine County Animal Control and Public Health to require cat "licensing," the city's Director of Public Safety Warren Hensman said, but nothing concrete has come of it. Adding and enforcing such regulations would be difficult, Hensman continued, when animal neglect and cat hoarding often coincide with mental health issues.

“We have to be delicate and respectful in how we handle these types of complaints,” he said.

Meanwhile, Weber said that the County doesn't have the staff or the resources to manage the problem either — lacking infrastructure, clinic space, and an on-staff veterinarian. The County would need grants or other sources of funding to do anything more, Weber said.

Enforcement efforts are also hampered by “non-ownership” of cats in situations where households are feeding and caring for feral cats, but will not claim responsibility for them, Weber said.

There are three programs in Josephine County that spay and neuter animals, according to the City's statement, but none of them are in a place to make a difference at present. Josephine County Spay and Neuter and the Toby Fund of Wolf Creek have exhausted their funding, and the Rogue Valley Humane Society only serves cats that have an owner, not feral animals.

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