Harvey Cedars Resident Continues Complaints of Feral Cats

Apr 03, 2019

A Harvey Cedars resident recently reiterated complaints to the borough in addressing a feral cat colony problem on Maiden Lane. Bill Bartholomew said that at one time, there were around 20 feral cats in the neighborhood, and said the number is now closer to 12.

“But people are still out there feeding the cats,” he said. “If they’re going to feed them, it might be better if they did it in an indoor area.”

Bartholomew, who first approached borough officials last fall, said a major concern is how his property and others are littered with cat feces. He said cat feces contain toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that could cause physical and brain disorders.

“I have young children, and I don’t want them playing anywhere outside,” he said. “I feel like I’m living in a giant litter box. I’d like to have an Easter egg hunt with my kids, but I can’t do that with the condition my yard is in. It is not safe to have rampant feral cat colonies where there is such an imminent likelihood of exposure for so many people, and in some cases, such as pregnant women, or children and people with compromised immune systems.”

In May 2017, the borough adopted an ordinance that established a managed care system for feral cats through a trap-neuter-return program, referred to as TNR, under the sponsorship of and in conjunction with the Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter. In the program, feral and stray cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic to be sterilized and vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. They are then returned to the area where they were captured, and are provided with long-term care by a caretaker in accordance with the ordinance.

“The Friends would be working closely with caretakers, which the ordinance defines as any person who regularly provides food and water to a feral cat colony,” said Borough Clerk Daina Dale.

Dale said that since the ordinance’s adoption, this was the first complaint of feral cats.

She said the borough had a major problem with feral cats in 2012, which led to the Associated Humane Societies bringing its mobile spay/neuter veterinarian van from Newark to Harvey Cedars. After 24 feral cats had their procedures done, community volunteers took them home for a recovery period before returning them to the areas where they were trapped. The cats were also micro-chipped, given rabies and distemper shots, cleared of parasites and given other veterinarian treatments if needed.

“That program was very successful,” said Dale. “With the ordinance, we’re now able to do this on a regular basis and put some structure into it.”

Police Chief Robert Burnaford said Bartholomew had contacted his department to help resolve the matter.

“I’ve been in touch with the (LBI) health department and animal control, to see if they can assist,” he said.

Dorothy Reynolds, co-president of the animal shelter friends, said people who don’t want cats on their property could install a sprinkler system.

“Cats don’t like water,” she said. “After a while, cats would not go on the property if they kept getting sprayed with water.”

She added, “If more problems persist with feral cats, we could always do another TNR program.”

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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