Feral cat explosion

(Photo by Will Dendis)

“We really need to curb the population, because we have a real problem here,” said Saugerties village trustee Donald Hackett about the growing number of feral and abandoned domestic cats in the village.

Hackett, along with his wife, Paula, and trustee Patrick Landewe, are in charge of the village’s response to the problem. The plan is to trap, spay/neuter, then get them adopted or released.

But the work is labor intensive. More help is needed. Village officials are looking for residents to volunteer to help trap the cats. From there, Hackett takes over, transporting the cats to the Ulster County SPCA where they are spayed and neutered.

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“We just need help trapping them,” Hackett said.

The village has purchased a number of live traps that it will lend out to residents willing to help in the fight against the feral cat population.

So far this year, Hackett and Landewe have trapped seven cats; Hackett, along with his wife, Paula, and trustee Patrick Landewe, are in charge of the village’s response to the problem. The plan is to trap, spay/neuter, then get them adopted or released.

But the work is labor intensive. More help is needed. Village officials are looking for residents to volunteer to help trap the cats. From there, Hackett takes over, transporting the cats to the Ulster County SPCA where they are spayed and neutered.

“We just need help trapping them,” Hackett said.

The village has purchased a number of live traps that it will lend out to residents willing to help in the fight against the feral cat population.

So far this year, Hackett and Landewe have trapped seven cats; some of them females that just had litters. More may have been caught, but Hackett said some people will release the cats.

“They see the animal in the trap and think it’s in trouble and just release it,” Hackett said.

Sometimes the cat wranglers trap young kittens, which are too young to be spayed and neutered.

Hackett explained the SPCA will only spay and neuter cats over 3 months old, “any younger than that and they won’t do it.”

The largest populations of the cats are in a field off Montross Street and down by the Mill senior housing on East Bridge St., Hackett said.

For years, residents of Montross have complained about the feral cats roaming the neighborhood, making noise at night and attacking domesticated pets. That’s the neighborhood where Hackett found a woman releasing trapped cats before they could be taken out of circulation.

And it’s not only feral cats that are causing problems, Hackett said. In some cases, residents of apartments in the village will move and release their domestic cats into the wild because they either don’t want to move with them or can’t take them with them, Hackett added.

“We find that in areas where there are apartments these domesticated cats are turning up,” Hackett said.

It’s also not easy trapping them, Hackett said. “I’ve gone back to traps where they have been sprung and the food is gone and there is no cat.”

“While we’ve only captured seven cats old enough to take to have spayed and neutered,” Hackett said, “the feral cat population is out of control, and we need help.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer to help set the traps or transport them to the SPCA can call Village Hall at 845-246-2321 ext. 1, or Hackett at 845-532-3310, or email trusteehackett@aol.com.

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