A reader contacted The Gazette recently regarding feral cats attacking birds nesting on his porch and asking what could be done about the problem.
"I have birds which nest on my porch each spring," the reader wrote. "I enjoy watching them and waiting for the hatchlings, however, three years in a row now, a feral cat has attacked and killed the birds. I've tried protecting the nests and catching the cat — what can the city do to help with feral cats in my neighborhood?"
A Gazette reporter talked to several people around town, trying to find a solution to this problem.
Mayor Danny Giefer suggested calling the animal control officer with the Emporia Police Department. Calling upon animal control was also what Emporia Police Sergeant Lisa Sage recommended.
"We can try to trap them," she said.
However, Sage cautioned against people trying to trap feral cats themselves.
"There's an ordinance against trapping," she said.
Deb Ghere with Friends of the Emporia Animal Shelter said the organization would like to offer a trap, neuter, return program, but currently lacks the ability to do so.
"It is something that we would like to do in the future, but at this time we do not have the manpower or funds," she said. "If someone has a small colony and meet the stipulations, we will try to help them."
According to Ghere, if the group started such a program, the cats — claws intact — would be returned to the area from which they were taken.
"Returning the cats to their colony is best for the cat in the fact that it is back in familiar territory, receives food (and) water and, once altered, the cats in that colony will keep new cats from coming in," she said. "It is a proven fact that if taken care of ,the colony will manage itself and eventually become smaller until gone. Releasing them elsewhere only passes the problem to someone else or becomes a death sentence for the cat."
She suggested people having trouble with feral cats call her organization at 342-9019.
Humane Society of the Flint Hills Director Caitlin Flood said there was something the people of Emporia in general could do if they wanted to do their part in keeping the feral cat population down — take better care of their pets.
"A large number of the feral cats in Emporia have come from people who have not spayed or neutered their indoor or outdoor cats and then, in the case of outdoor cats, let them wander their neighborhood," she said. "In doing so, their cats breed and create more cats. Most of the time people can’t take care of the new litter of kittens and in some cases these cats or kittens will be left to fend for themselves and become feral. So spaying (or) neutering your cat, whether it is an indoor or outdoor cat, is critical to reducing the number or feral, or 'community,' cats."
Along with the aforementioned suggestions, anyone experiencing a problem with feral cats can contact the police department's non-emergency line at 343-4200 and speak with or leave a message for the animal control officer, who will deal with the cats.