Radnor considers stray cat feeding ban

Radnor Township supervisors are slated to consider an ordinance at their meeting tonight that would ban the feeding of stray cats.

Animal lovers in Radnor - and those who advocate for humane treatment of stray and feral cats across the nation  - are urging a more humane approach to the problem.

"Radnor Township’s proposed ordinance must be voted down," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, a national feral cat advocacy group. "The proposed ordinance is punitive, retrogressive, and benefits no one—not the cats, nor the community.

The ordinance would subject violators to fines between $300 and $1,000. It also appears to require that all cats have rabies licenses. The state law on cats and rabies only applies to indoor cats.

Robinson's group has fought similar ordinances elsewhere and says Radnor is out of touch with current approaches to controlling feral cat populations.

Across the United States the trend among local governments is to embrace Trap-Neuter-Return  (TNR) - that is, the process of trapping feral cats, fixing and vaccinating them and returning them to the area where they were living. Many in Philadelphia and the surrounding region maintain cat colonies this way. Among the most famous feral cat colonies in the country is the one under the Atlantic City boardwalk.

In the working class community of Steelton near Harrisburg, the TNR-based feral cat control program has been so succesfful that volunteers are seeking out other communities to help.

In many cases feral cats who have spent their lives without human contact are impossible to turn into happy house cats, which means virtually immediate euthanasia if they end up in shelters.

But feral feline defenders argue cats can live comfortable lives outside if given food and provided some shelter. Kittens, if caught early enough can make great pets and - I speak from experience - there are many times that former house cats are abandoned in the country and with a little love and care can make wonderful pets.

Robinson says many communities are making it easier for compassionate caregivers to help feral cat colonies, not "slam them with fines for taking care of these defenseless animals, as the Radnor ordinance would do.

"There are dozens of spay and neuter clinics around the Radnor area which shows there is strong community support for TNR. Radnor officials should tear up this old-school ordinance immediately and instead form an alliance with local volunteers and caregivers to embrace progressive and humane solutions like TNR that work for the cats and the residents."