Thursday, May 13, 2021
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November, 2019 - By City Manager Rachelle Rickard

Many communities across the country have a large population of free-roaming, ownerless and/or, feral cats, and Atascadero is unfortunately no exception. An unrestrained community cat population presents the City with a significant financial burden. In a recent three-year period, over 1,000 community cats in Atascadero were taken to the County’s animal shelter, at a cost to us of $350 per cat or roughly $350,000 to shelter these cats. Once the County’s new animal shelter opens, that fee will likely increase to about $600 per cat, which equates to an even more substantial draw from the City’s general fund and drains resources away from other, much needed City-provided services.  Humanely reducing or eliminating these community cat populations is a goal the City shares with our local non-profit animal-sheltering organizations and rescue groups, veterinary professionals and animal protection experts.

Community cats gather and live in a particular location because there is a food source (intended or not) and some sort of shelter, often in close proximity to humans. Scientific research has shown that abruptly removing cats from this type of location creates a well-documented “vacuum effect”, which then causes the remaining colony cats to breed rapidly to fill in the gap and for new cats, sensing the vacancy, to quickly move into the colony in order to take advantage of the food and shelter sources.