By Meg Dedyne
Listen Up, Lansing Staff Reporter
Juan Loaiza was taking out his trash one night and noticed a few cats by his garbage. A weeks few later he noticed something strange — double the cats and kittens.
Living on the south side of Lansing, Loaiza said he was used to seeing a few cats around his neighborhood but that it was getting out of control.
“One night there are nine cats and the next night it seems like there’s 38 cats,” Loaiza said. “It’s a public safety issue because people in our neighborhood have small children and all of these cats have diseases.”
Loaiza said that the biggest problem with these cats is the fact that the government doesn’t take care of them and that no one will come out and get the cats.
“People are always saying, oh these poor cats, but they are not concerned about the consequences of them,” said Loaiza. “It seems like every other city has a way of handling them, but in Lansing the only way is to spend your own time and money to take care of them properly.”
According to Loaiza, there aren’t enough people to take care of the problem.
Bob Miller, resident of East Lansing, has been feeding feral cats in three locations in Lansing for five years now. According to Miller, he has always had a love for cats and feels obligated to help starving and cold animals. Over the years, he has gotten to know these cats well.
“One day I was just going through the Wendy’s drive through and noticed all of these cats and kittens behind this one little plaza and I was worried they were going to get hit,” Miller said. “I started bringing dry and wet food for them and putting houses behind buildings for them.”
According to Miller, he had to negociate with the corporate owner of Wendy’s because the guy didn’t want the cats hanging around there. He participates in the Voiceless-MI trap, neuter and return program which involves trapping the cat safely, having them neutered and returning them to where they were found.
Camie Heleski, instructor in the department of animal science at Michigan State University said that it is important to return the cats after they are neutered, because new cats will just replace them if they aren’t returned.
“From the data that I have seen, you don’t see as many feral cats around with the trap, neuter and return program,” Heleski said. “The clinics do vaccinations, which is important, and then the cats are returned so as to stop the spread of new cats.”
According to data collected from the Capital Area Humane Society for the National Animal Interest Alliance Shelter Project, the cats that have been received by the society in 2014 were slightly higher than the amount of cats received in 2013 and 2012.
According to Anne Burns, deputy director of the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter, they strongly believe in the trap, neuter and return program.
“We have a veterinarian on staff and we work closely with the Capital Area Humane Society and Voiceless, but we hope to have our own TNR program sometime soon,” Burns said.
The feral cat population in Ingham County is a yearly problem, according to Burns. Cats can produce very quickly and they always expect a fall kitten season and a spring kitten season. The population is continuing to grow.
Juan Loaiza’s wife, Juliana Loaiza, said that she does not like the cats being in their neighborhood either.
“We had to change a lot of little things around our house,” said Juliana Loaiza. “We had a huge garbage can but then we had to get a smaller one and couldn’t leave garbage bags out because all of the cats would get into them. Some people would try to feed the cats by the garbage cans which just isn’t helping the situation.”
Juliana Loaiza said she is more than frustrated with the cat situation and how they keep multiplying before their eyes.
Holly Thoms, president of Voiceless-MI, a non-profit organization that helps animals, said that the best thing the public can do for the feral cats is trap, neuter and return them. Cats have a territory and if they are not returned back where they were found, they will wander and try to find their way back there.
“The feral cat population started from the irresponsibility of humans,” said Thoms. “At some point domestic cats got out that weren’t fixed or they weren’t being paid attention to or something of the sort and then the situation got out of hand.”
According to Thoms, there is a high population of cats in rural communities, as well as urban ones. She said that their organization doesn’t have a ton of volunteers to go out and trap all of the cats but they have a lot of people that want to help the animals.
“We pay for everything and show people how to trap the cats and do the best we can to make it easy for people to help the animals,” Thoms said. “There are exceptions for seniors and those who are disabled where we will go out and take care of it for them.”