Sunday, June 13, 2021
70.0°F

Othello passes feral cat ordinance

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 26, 2021 1:00 AM

OTHELLO — People who feed feral cats will be required to obtain a free “feral cat caregiver” permit under the terms of a new ordinance passed Monday and in effect Tuesday by the Othello City Council.

Mayor Shawn Logan said in an interview Tuesday the goal of the ordinance is to encourage people to act responsibly when feeding feral cats. The ordinance will require residents to apply for a permit, including documentation that shows the applicants meet requirements. People who violate the ordinance will be subject to civil penalties.

“Such application form shall require the applicant comply with the standards for trapping, treatment and return of feral cats that the city of Othello may require,” according to the ordinance.

Logan said residents see feral cats and don’t want them to starve, especially in the winter. So they start putting out food.

“They want to do what they can to help the cats,” Logan said.

But just putting out food attracts still more cats, compounding the problem, Logan said. And Othello Police Chief Phil Schenck said during Monday’s council meeting city officials have had cases where residents went on other people’s property to feed cats. The ordinance is designed, in part, to prevent that.

“A permit issued under this (ordinance) does not authorize a feral cat caregiver to enter upon private property without the permission of the landowner,” the ordinance states.

And, with the new ordinance, the animal control officer will know the location of feral cat colonies, Schenck said. It’s a violation of the ordinance to abandon or release cats into the wild.

Cats trapped by a feral cat caregiver must be spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies and distemper, and ear-tipped for identification.

Some people trap the cats and take the animals to be spayed or neutered at their own expense.

“They’re largely into population control,” Logan said.

The spayed and neutered cats are then released back into the neighborhoods where they live, Logan said, and tend to keep new cats from coming into the area. If cats are just removed, new cats tend to come in, he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.