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Planners briefed on feral cat colonies

Richard D. L. Fulton

(8/6) The Carroll Valley Borough Planning Commission were provided with an overview of the maintenance of feral cat colonies in the State of Pennsylvania at their August 5 meeting.

The board had schedule a discussion regarding a work group to be charged with considering "domesticated animals and animals running at-large" in the borough.

Adams County resident Douglas Laptook, who maintains a registered feral cat colony in Adams County, said he has been involved in aiding feral cats for more than 20 years.

The voluntary feline caregiver said he attended the meeting to discuss resources concerning feral cats, not as an adversary in this discussions.

Laptook told the board that his colony, which resides in and around a barn on his property, has in the past consisted of as many as 100 feral cats, although that number is now down to "about 30." He provides medical care and neutering and spaying to all of the cats in the colony.

In addition to working with an area veterinarian, Laptook also creates some of the medications the cats may be in need of. "My grandfather was a Cherokee medicine man," he said. "I medicate them. I vet them." Laptook said the oldest feline in the current colony is 19 years of age.

The colony manager noted that feral cats are considered state property under the law, and unpermitted trapping, attempted poisoning or killing will result in "you going to trail," he stated, noting that the state views these violations the same manner that they would if a deer was being shot out of season.

Maintaining a colony of any size, Laptook said, can be expensive. He has spent an average of $800 a month on his colony. "If they (any area resident) are willing to take care of a (feral) cat colony, then they (will likely) need helpÖhelp the people helping the animals rather than make a law making them get rid of the colony."

The feral cat problem he said begins with a people problem, those who receive kittens or cats as gifts and donít want them, those who have an ailing cat they canít afford to take care of, or those relocating who cannot take their cats with them.

Laptook said feral colony cats tend to stay within their home-base because they are fed and cared for. "My cats donít roam."

As to complaints that feral cats kill birds, Laptook stated, "They do kill birds. Itís natureĎs way. I didnít set the system up. The good Lord did."

There was no formal action taken regarding the feral cat issue, but the discussions are slated to also be on the agenda for the next regular meeting of the planning commission.

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