Vincennes resident Brad Crouch went before members of the city council on Monday to ask for help in dealing with dozens of stray and feral cats in his neighborhood.
Crouch, 416 W. Jefferson Ave., addressed members of council during the public comment portion of the council meeting.
“There’s a cat problem,” Crouch declared. “I’ve called the police; I’ve called the animal shelter, and they came out and took all the cats, got them back in good health and spayed and neutered, and then brought them back and dropped them off.”
The problem, Crouch says, is that a large number of stray and feral cats are living outside of a neighboring home, inevitably then coming onto his property, ruining outdoor furniture, strewing garbage on his property and getting into his garage, leaving behind unsightly messes.
Mayor Joe Yochum asked Vincennes Animal Shelter Director Leah Vantlin, who happened to attend Monday’s meeting, to address Crouch’s concerns.
“We do TNR — Trap, Neuter, Release — as does the Humane Society,” she said.
Vantlin says there are an estimated 1,200 stray and feral cats across the city, making any other approach to humanely controlling the cat population impossible.
“We couldn’t possibly take them all in,” she said of the city’s shelter, located at 1128 River Road.
Too, she added, city code allows stray cats to freely roam so long as they have been spayed or neutered — those cats are then easily identifiable by their tipped ears.
That TNR approach, Vantlin said, is one of the best methods to control the stray cat population.
However, it takes time and involvement from the community.
“Cats that have been fixed will keep other breeding cats from moving into an area.
“It’s hard to get a handle on the population, but it’s very effective once you get all of (the cats) in that area,” Vantlin told the council.
But, Couch says, at least for the near future, the catch-and-release method won’t address his concerns.
“That’s not going to stop them from coming over to my yard and tearing up my outside furniture, and the neighbors don’t care,” he said.
Vantlin agreed that as long as a neighbor is feeding the strays, the cats will stick around.
“They’re drawn to the food source,” she said.
Members of council, though, say they urge residents to be patient, noting that they’ve seen the TNR program work in other neighborhoods.
“Our neighborhood was the exact same way; we had at least 50 stray cats,” said District 2 Councilman Brian Grove. “Our population has diminished so much in the last two years, but it does take time.”
Grove says part of what helped is that his family got involved in the TNR program, volunteering to go out daily to check the live traps set out by the animal shelter.
Vantlin says that’s what’s needed — more community volunteers to check humane traps daily.
“It’s a manpower thing,” she said, noting that the handful of shelter employees aren’t able to set and check all the traps needed across the city.
“The traps have to be checked every few hours, especially during the summer months, so we have to have neighborhood volunteers to do that,” Vantlin said.
While the shelter can provide the traps and canned cat food to lure the felines in, volunteers across the city are what’s needed to sufficiently control the population.
Vantlin says she’s looking for anyone willing to help with the task.
“It takes a community,” she said. “It takes a village to solve this problem.”
For more information, or to serve as a volunteer in the TNR cat program, call the shelter at 812-882-8826.