By Ethan Charles
Cedarville has a reputation for attracting stray cats, and this year things have ramped up yet again.
In April of this year, Cedarville Mayor John Cody Jr. attempted to solve this problem with a controversial ordinance that banned the feeding of stray cats, in hopes of preventing the stray population from growing more than it had already.
The now-tabled ordinances were vague and brought with it harsh backlash from advocacy group Alley Cat Allies for banning the act of giving food to animals that have grown to rely on it.
“Feeding bans are inherently cruel to cats who are accustomed to receiving food, and they have already proven not to work in hundreds of other communities,” said Alley Cat Allies attorney DanaMarie Panella after the organization heard about the ordinance. “Cedarville leaders are pursuing an idea that modern society realized to be obsolete decades ago.”
Following this controversy, Cody decided to table these restrictions indefinitely, and “return to the drawing board,” should anything new be introduced. So far, no new ordinances have been introduced, but the stray cat population seems to be growing as Cedarville University students take in and feed the animals.
“A lot of people think it’s fun to take care of something else than just themselves,” said Laura King, a student who rents from a house in the middle of town. “I took care of about three of them.”
Although King doesn’t still care for cats as much as she did in her last semester, she said there is definitely still a large population of strays around her.
“Just about every time I take a walk I expect to see a cat,” said King.
So what’s the answer? For Alley Cat Allies, they say the best thing to do is implement a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) operation village-wide. TNR is a method of population control for stray animals supported by Alley Cat Allies as well as the Humane Society. This method, according to Alley Cat Allies, is a more ethical way to control the population of approximately one cat per four residents of Cedarville.
Cedarville has yet to implement a TNR policy, but Cody made clear his support for the treatment as a possible solution.
“We want a plan that will take care of the villagers, take care of the cats, and doesn’t sleight the property owner,” said Cody.
The biggest problem Cody outlined in April was that of Cedarville students “adopting” these stray cats, and subsequently letting them go as they return home for the summer. This not only makes these cats reliant on people to feed them for survival, but it drastically increases the overall population as these cats are completely safe from the elements year-round. According to King, while cats are still definitely a problem, cat adoption may be falling.
“The stray cats now that I see are like really stray,” said King. “They don’t interact with people at all.”
The cats’ avoidant behavior King noticed is one of the reasons she’s stopped feeding stray cats this year, as have the people she lives and interacts with.
We reached out to Cody for comment on this phenomena and updates on a council meeting on the issue that was supposed to happen in June, but have yet to hear back. For now, King is still glad to see cats around despite the controversy, and said she enjoys being able to take care of animals without the years-long commitment.
To put it simply, King said her experience with the huge feline population has been “kind of fun, but also kind of crazy.”
Ethan Charles is a senior Communication student and reporter for the Xenia Gazette and Fairborn Herald. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking new trails and cooking for friends and family.