WAUSAU, WISCONSIN – Residents who have been feeding stray cats for some time now in Wausau should now come forward to work with the local Community Cat Action Team and get all of those animals vaccinated and neutered.
The City Council approved a trap, neuter and release program on Tuesday night to help put an end to feral cats from reproducing in Wausau.
The project has been the center of heated debates for more than a year. Supporters argue it’s a humane way to reduce the cat population over the course of years, but opponents dislike the idea of returning any strays to neighborhoods once they’ve been caught.
An initial trap, neuter and release proposal failed miserably last summer. But the non-profit organization behind it — the Community Cat Action Team, or CCAT — continued to persist and has been refining the program with Wausau officials and working in more rural areas.
Under the brand new policy, CCAT members will train cat caretakers in the community to trap, neuter, vaccinate and release strays to a colony. The caretakers will provide food, water or shelter for the neutered animals. Neutered strays will be marked by ear tip removal.
“It’s a humane way to start to control the cat population,” said City Council member Lisa Rasmussen. “It was fairly well received. … Nor nearly as contentious as the first time around.”
Some have worried that the program could cause Wausau to lose its “Bird City” designation, but Rasmussen said Wausau can secure that status by using other criteria. She said that the program could eventually reduce the city’s payments to the Humane Society of Marathon County, which takes the stray cats Wausau officials collect now.
The initial proposal called for a pilot trap, neuter and release program on Wausau’s near the west side, but residents of the neighborhood have firmly objected. The current plan applies to the entire city.
Rasmussen said CCAT will start to reach out more in the warmer spring and summer months and can neuter around 30 cats a month.