HARRINGTON — Harrington City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance that will put in a place a plan for the city and its residents t humanely deal with free-roaming, community cats.
Using a nationally accepted model called Trap-Neuter-Return, the program enlists the assistance of community volunteers, cat advocacy agencies and city officials.
The community cats, once referred to as feral, are abandoned or the product of cats left on their own and have the potential to carry rabies.
Teresa Tieman, city manager, says a draft of the ordinance is posted on the city website, http:harrington.delaware.gov,; the site also offers information on agencies that offer low-cost spay and neuter information.
Mrs. Tieman said city officials are unsure of how many cats are considered a problem, but she believes the number probably has grown since Kent County SPCA stopped assisting the municipality with trapping feral cats.
A feral cat is unsocialized, while a stray cat lives on its own, is socialized and potentially adoptable.
In order to be successful, a Trap-Neuter-Return program requires a partnership with citizen volunteers.
“It’s really help us help you,” the city manager said.
“It’s a humane way of dealing with the cat population.”
Harrington’s top administrator has been enlisting the support of the Delaware SPCA and the state chapter of the Humane Society USA.
“We’ve revised the ordinance, and we’ve had several meetings with public works and planning. The next step is to identify volunteers, cat colony caretakers,” she said.
The benefits of neutering, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture web site, include the elimination of unwanted litters, pet homelessness and certain cancers.
Through the Dept. of Agriculture, low-cost pet spaying and neutering are available to residents who are on a public assistance program.
In addition the Delaware SPCA, with a shelter in Georgetown, is offering $25 spay/neuter through “The Cat Days of Summer.”
“When cats are neutered, bad behaviors are tamed down, and they will be released back into the same neighborhood,” Mrs. Tieman said.
Neutering also reduces roaming, so the cats are less visible.
According to the Humane Society, an unspayed female cat, her mate and their offspring producing two litters a year with 2.8 surviving kittens can total 12 cats in the first year and as many as 376 in three years.
Starting later this month, the city and the Delaware SPCA will start trapping in a test neighborhood.
For more information on the initiative, visit www.neighborhoodcats.org, and for more information on the spay/neuter program, visit www.delspca.org.