Feral cats multiply, but Metro Detroit neighborhood has plan

Farmington Hills residents team up with Humane Society

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – The Michigan DNR said feral cats are a problem in many neighborhoods, and there are no easy answers. 

The cats didn't ask to be in these neighborhoods, but there are here and they are a nuisance. They can be a health hazard, too. 

Cindy Smith lives in the Franklin Knolls subdivision in Farmington Hills. She calls many of the feral cats in her neighborhood by name. In the past three years she has spent thousands of her own money trying to manage the cat problem. 

"In my backyard I have another feral cat, but I got her fixed. She's had her shots and she won't leave me," said Smith. "I keep (the door) open because I have a kitty condo and a litter box for them."

Cats to be collected by Humane Society

Smith said she believes she is doing a humane gesture for animals. The feral cat problem in this community is big enough that last month as an association it was decided the feral cats would be collected, carted away and destroyed. However, after outrage from neighbors a new plan was put into place. Starting Monday night, the cats will be trapped by the Huron Valley Humane Society, spayed or neutered, given a round of inoculations for diseases and then returned to the neighborhood as feral, but sterile, cats. 

"What happens if you get rid of all of the feral cats, within a year or two a new group comes back into the neighborhood. So I would prefer that we just get ours inoculated and fixed, and stay in the neighborhood to keep the other cats out. Because it's going to be a continuous problem," said Smith. 

'Normal part of the environment'

Milt Levine, of the homeowner's board, said cats are a normal part of the environment.

"They're part of our natural ecosystem and they keep down rodents. They control other things that are in the area," said Levine. 

Here's the catch 22: While neighbors believe they are managing the colony of cats to keep others from moving into the territory, wild cats also tip over trash cans, eat song birds, squirrels and impact the environment. That's according to the DNR, which will not take an official position on this "TNR" -- trap, neuter, release -- in Farmington Hills. 

Another problem is the inoculations will expire. The cats will remain in the neighborhood and could impact actual pets with a variety of diseases. However, neighbors maintained this strategy is preferred. 

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