Feral cat problem grows in Wichita

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A new survey from the Wichita Police Department wants your input about feral cats.

There is no way to know how many feral cats there are in the city, because there are simply too many to count. Estimates range as high as 100,000. but one proposed solution to the problem is something police legally cannot do.

The trees at Oak Park make for a great hiding spot for a number of feral cats. It's a problem that concerns Wichita police.

"They destroy the wildlife that's in that area. That's when we start having problems," said Lt. Joe Schroeder, head of Animal Services for the WPD. He is passionate about what could be a wild cat epidemic in the city.

"When you deal with large cat populations in one area, they tend to feed, they defecate, urinate all over the area. They get on to people's property, their cars," Schroeder said Monday.

One way to combat rising feral cat numbers is trap neuter release, or TNR. A feral colony is trapped, all the cats are spayed or neutered, then released back in the wild. The colony then dies out, because it cannot reproduce. But....

"Right now the laws in Wichita do not allow for TNR, 'cause you can't provide care and medical treatment for an animal and then abandon the animal," Schroeder explained.

Sarah Coffman with Wichita Animal Action League said TNR policies combat three problems. "How do we get stray cat numbers lower, while saving taxpayers, while killing as few cats as possible," she said.

Wichita police have posted a survey asking the public for its input on feral cats and ideas on how the city should tackle the problem.

Coffman noted people do not realize how many cats can come from just two. "One male cat plus one female cat times seven years is 470,000 kittens."

According to Coffman, Newton started allowing TNR and the number of feral cat complaints and demand on animal services went down. 

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