A pilot program on the North Side is trapping, neutering and returning feral cats to the wild. City Councilwoman Darlene Harris says it's better than capturing the cats and euthanizing them. That's often the alternative, because feral cats generally aren't suitable as pets. She also says the program is expected to reduce the city's feral cat population over time. Harris' office is giving $2,000 of Neighborhood Needs funds to the group Animal Care and Welfare, whose volunteers are operating the trap-neuter-release program. So far, 23 cats in Spring Hill have been trapped, fixed, de-wormed, de-fleaed, and given rabies shots before being returned to the wild.
Harris says trap-neuter-release will likely become the standard citywide next year. She believes it will save money.
Other groups like the Animal Rescue League, Humane Society of Western Pennsylvania, and Animal Friends have teamed up on the Three Rivers Feral Project, which has operated trap-neuter-release programs in Hazelwood and other neighborhoods.
Harris says it's good to have several groups working on the effort because the city has a lot of feral cats. Animal Control picked up about a thousand cats in the first ten months of this year; only 30 of them were claimed. Often, local residents will feed and monitor colonies of feral cats. Harris says she was surprised to hear how many colonies there were.
Harris says feral cats have become a bigger problem in recent years. She says the city used to spay and neuter more of them, but funding was cut when Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed under Pennsylvania's Act 47 in late 2003.