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Town seeks feral feline fix

Colonie officials said at a Thursday, July 29, Town Board meeting that the town has made progress in cracking down on its feral cat population.

It's already on our list, said Supervisor Paula Mahan when asked for an update on the issue by resident Jeanine McCarten.

Mahan said the town had a meeting earlier in the week with a small group of veterinarians to discuss what could be done to minimize the problem of feral cats in the town. At the meeting were Samantha Mullen, chairwoman of the Legislation Committee for the New York State Humane Association; Valery Lang, a professor of Animal Rights Law at the Hudson Valley Community College; and Holly Cheever of the Animal Hospital in Slingerlands. All are members of the NYS Humane Association.

Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said town officials are trying to work closely with residents and local veterinary clinics to set up a trap, neuter and release program (TNR) and begin loaning out traps to residents.

"The town's part would include education," Magguilli said.

He said information about the program would be included in the town's quarterly publication.

"We're also looking to set up a form of payment cooperation with local veterinarians for reduced rates to spay and neuter these cats," he said.

McCarten said she was pleased with the town's response.

"That's great. I am so heartened by your response," she said. "This means so much to us."

Cheever, however, said she has some strong reservations to adopting the program, saying she would side with humanely euthanizing feral cats before creating a TNR colony.

"TNR is too often simply passing the buck, of getting rid or euthanizing cats, to human nature," she said. "They are killed by such things as coyotes, foxes, juvenile delinquents, cars and vicious cold winters."

Cats have evolved over the years to become domesticated, said Cheever, meaning a feral cat is not necessarily a wild animal and added that the normal life expectancy of a feral feline is three to four years. Some of the dangers Cheever fears in participating in a TNR program for feral cats is the risk of having their rabies shots wear off after a year without anyone to check up on them to get them a new one. She said this poses health risks to the cat, humans and outside wildlife.

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