Cats may have nine lives, but Elk Grove animal control officials are hoping to spare a few felines and save tax-payers money at the same time.
The Elk Grove Police Department’s animal control division wants to change the way it handles the feral cat population by sterilizing and releasing animals rather than euthanizing them.
“We’re tired of killing these animals for no reason at all,” Animal Control Supervisor Maureen McCann said. “They’re perfectly fine where they’re at and able to survive on their own.”
Animal control officers will hold the first of two public outreach meetings today at 6:30 p.m. in the Elk Grove City Hall Council Chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way, to outline their ideas for curbing the feral cab population and get feedback from the community.
A second meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Currently, when a feral cat is brought into the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals from Elk Grove, it is housed there for three to four days before it is euthanized, McCann said.
“This is not resolving the problem. We continue to see an increase in the feral cat population,” she said.
Under the proposed Feral Freedom program, feral cats brought into the SPCA will be evaluated and as long as they’re healthy and meet the minimum age requirement, they will be spayed or neutered, tagged for identification and released back into the community.
Similar programs in New York, Florida and San Jose have drastically reduced feral cat populations, according to McCann.
In addition, McCann said sterilizing and releasing the animals will cut costs from $250 per cat to $100.
Between Jan. 1 and May 23, Elk Grove animal control officers and the public brought in 554 feral cats to the SPCA and of those 543 were destroyed at a cost of $13,000, McCann said.
The growing number of feral cats in the city have also turned kitten season into a year-round problem.