Smith Co. tackles cat problem

POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008 - 6:59pm

UPDATED: Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 12:39am

Lake Palestine woman reported the area being inundated with about 40-50 feral cats

LAKE PALESTINE - Dana Simmons' home is overrun by stray cats.

She says about ten cats, give or take, live there. "We put cat food out for my cats," said Simmons. "We'll look outside and see cats that we have no idea where they belong."

Situations like this - where stray cats roam freely - are what Smith County officials don't want. "They just keep simply multiplying too fast," said Brenda Elrod, with the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

It's become such a nuisance that county commissioners put in on the agenda in court Monday. But they want to make one thing clear: on the issue of house cats or strays, the Sheriff's Animal Control officers are not going to routinely pick up house cats.

"They do not have the manpower nor the budget to do so," said Precinct One Commissioner JoAnn Fleming. "We are stressing personal
responsibility and are asking people not to feed stray cats or raccoons if they don't want to take care of them long-term. Cats are natural
predators and will hunt for themselves. Feeding cats just attracts them to rural neighborhoods so that they become a nuisance to others."

Commissioner Fleming said in the case of the feral cats in a neighborhood around Lake Palestine, a lady reported the area being inundated with about 40-50 feral cats, many obviously diseased.

Fleming asked the State Health Department to send out someone to take a look regarding the health issues.

A woman in the neighborhood caged about 33 of the feral cats. The Sheriff's Department picked up the cages to get these out of the neighborhood so that the disease could be stopped. Fleming said they will pick up any others that the lady can cage.

She also said the Smith County Sheriff's Department does not deal with skunks, beavers, deer, wild hogs, etc. "There are private sector trappers that will assist with those," said Fleming.

If you do have stray cats in your neighborhood, county officials say do not feed them nor leave pet food out; wild cats will continue to come around if you do.

In addition, feral cats look like domesticated animals - but they're not. Many carry diseases including rabies. Stray cats travel in colonies and tend to hiss when bothered. Health officials say a simple scratch by one of these cats can infect a human with rabies or any of 30 other diseases.

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With construction of the time share condos by the Villages in our neighborhood around Lake Palestine, I have had 5 stray cats show up at my house in the last 13 months. I have not had one in the previous 14 years of living in my current home until this construction started. I believe that the construction workers dump their unwanted pets in our neighborhood and just leave at the end of the day. Their problem is solved. I have one cat that stays out most of the day. I now have to stand outside while it eats to keep the strays away.

Iwish they would do the the same in Jacksonville everywhere you go their are Stray Cats and the stores aeound here leave food out for them not knowing if they are Rabid or not.

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