Bellaire battles problem of feral cats

October 7, 2010 4:18:48 PM PDT
Bellaire police officers are about to have new duties on their plate -- patrolling the distribution of cat food. Dishes of cat food remain are being left behind on a city easement left by people who feed the cats every night. Neighbors say they don't hate cats, but they're sick of having to clean up after them.

There were no cats to be seen Thursday afternoon -- just dishes of cat food and water left out to show that a lot of cats live here. That, according to area business owners, is a health hazard and a property damage problem.

Business owner Margo Costello said, "We have an organized group of people that come every single night and feed cats. They don't trap neuter and release them; they just feed them."

Margo and Fred Costello run Riverway Business Services in the 5200 block of Spruce in Bellaire and they say the dozens of feral cats behind them are a real nuisance. They power-wash the building every weekend, and bleach the walkways to clean up cat feces and disinfect.

"The cat feeders say that there's 30 to 35, which to me is still way too many cats," Margo said.

So the Costellos went to Bellaire City Council for help.

"It's the accumulation of them in one particular area, and we feel that by not feeding them, you know, hopefully it will disperse the colony somewhat," said Bellaire City Council Member Corbett Parker.

Councilman Parker proposed a ban on feeding feral cats on public property and on private property without the owner's consent. One of the cat feeders emailed to Eyewitness News: "We are doing our best to disengage from this surprising and disappointing situation. My wife has fed and sterilized cats in Bellaire for years strictly out of kindness and a good heart. We never imagined that this type of hysteria would develop around such an activity."

But the Costellos say the community of feral cats is growing because of the feeding and it's time for it to come to an end.

Fred said, "This problem has been brought to us. We didn't seek it out and so we're just reacting to a very negative circumstance."

The ordinance could be on the Bellaire City Council agenda week from Monday. Councilman Parker says eventually the city may look at a trap, neuter, release program to curb the population of feral cats.

You can read more about the feral cats in the Bellaire Examiner, one of our Houston Community Newspaper partners.


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