Tuesday, August 11, 2009 1:07 PM

Feral Cats in the News

Yesterday, our local newspaper published an article concerning a colony of feral cats living on the grounds of an Easthampton subsidized housing complex. Apparently, the Easthampton Housing Authority is looking to the city for funds to deal with this problem even as tenants are taking matters into their own hands, and getting punished for it.

Housing Authority officials have issued warnings and even eviction notices to at least one tenant at the Dickinson Court complex for feeding the strays. The tenant in question, a 74-year old woman, feared the cats would starve without her help, yet desisted in the face of an eviction notice. This tenant, with the assistance of a Personal Care Assistant who works at the apartment complex, also traps feral cats for neutering and vaccination. This service costs the Housing Authority nothing, as the Homeless Cat Project performs the medical procedures at no cost. Despite this, officials have said publicly that it is illegal to trap feral cats (even though that is exactly what they plan to do with the money they have requested from the city!), something that the coordinator of the HCP states is untrue.

Why is the Housing Authority so concerned? The Executive Director claims that both tenants and contractors have complained about the cats and that they have done damage to the grounds. When the reporter interviewed a number of tenants, however, all said they did not mind the cats. This begs the question of why contractors' comments should carry more weight than those of paying customers, if indeed there have been any contractor complaints at all. This official also states that the city Health Agent told her that the cats may have rabies and could pose a danger to residents; the HCP's free innoculation program should take care of the disease issue, however. Additionally, the article goes on to paraphrase the city's Animal Control Officer as stating that the cats have caused no one any harm.

The Authority states that it wants the money to "place" or euthanize the cats. Feral cats are unadoptable; therefore, the only other option they will consider is to destroy them. But why? It seems to me that this issue is less about feral cats and more about the Easthampton Housing Authority's obsession with exerting control over tenants, particularly elderly ones without any other options. Since when is it a bad thing to show kind-heartedness? Never mind the fact that these people are actually trying to solve the problem, something the city has yet to even attempt!

Read the full article, authored by Matt Pilon, in the Monday, August 10, 2009 edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
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Carrie Says:
August 11, 2009 at 5:28 PM

Thank you Amanda! I just saw this on the tv news yesterday, and I live in Easthampton. Makes me so mad, I want to go to stand up for the kitties and the kind people at the next public meeting.

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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