Florida House committee passes bill to support programs to neuter, release feral cats
A Florida House of Representatives subcommittee approved a bill Wednesday that would support programs to capture, neuter and vaccinate feral cats and return them to their original location.
In Alachua County, Operation Catnip offers the same services as the bill, HB 1121.
Shaye Olmstead, executive director of Operation Catnip, said trap, neuter and return programs allow healthy, feral cats unsuitable for adoption to return to their outdoor homes instead of going to shelters where euthanization is likely.
If passed, the bill could help lower the feral cat population through neutering.
However, the Alachua Audubon Society has concerns about the bill.
Helen Warren, president of the Alachua Audubon Society, said by returning the cats to where they are found, the program doesn’t resolve the threat free-roaming cats pose to other animals.
“We know that there are issues with cats going after the birds, and if these feral cat colonies are allowed to be sponsored throughout the state, we feel that there is going to be a lot of issues,” Warren said.
Florida is crucial because it is the migrating point for South American birds, Warren said.
Cats, especially feral cats, are a leading cause of bird deaths, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Infection from a cat’s teeth or claws or the stress of capture usually results in death for birds.
Emily Stanton wrote this story online.
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