Cats, the musical, took up residence in Schenectady last weekend; but cats, the animal nuisance, continue to make their presence felt in the town of Colonie.
A report in Tuesday’s Times Union indicates that for the second consecutive Town Board meeting, officials were bombarded with complaints from constituents at their wits’ end over feral cats digging and marking in gardens, spraying cars and buildings with their foul smell, antagonizing otherwise well-behaved dogs, etc. They want the board to do something — fast — before the problem worsens, which it is, of course, likely to do during summer, prime reproduction season.
The constituents’ ire is understandable because animal control officials won’t round up cats because they’re not licensed. And while the current burgeoning population may be wild, it was not always so: If most wild cats’ lineage could be traced, the path would lead to domestic pets that owners simply didn’t take care of.
Where dog owners register, inoculate and leash their animals so they can’t run loose, many cat owners do nothing for their pets short of feeding them when they’re around. They routinely loose them on the neighborhood, letting them come and go as they please, and some of the felines never bother to come back. They reproduce, then their offspring start reproducing – at as early as five months of age. And because a cat can have as many as four litters per year with three to five cats each, it doesn’t take long before a neighborhood can be lousy with cats.
Colonie, and every other city and town in the region, needs a licensing program that ensures that cats get inoculated against rabies, that encourages owners to neuter them, and prohibits them from running loose. More than just a nuisance, loose cats pose a safety hazard – not just with rabies, but toxoplasmosis, a serious affliction for pregnant women.
Politicians around the region have always been reluctant to tackle this issue, lest they offend a large constituency – irresponsible pet owners. But a registration program is not just best for the animals, it’s the fair way to treat people who don’t own cats.