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Granite Shoals forms feral cat committee

Lionhearts TNR

One of the custom-made trap covers donated to the city of Granite Shoals by Lionhearts TNR will be used to help the city humanely manage its feral cat problem. TNR stands for trap, neuter, and release. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Granite Shoals now has a group dedicated to humanely managing its feline problem. The City Council on Jan. 23 unanimously voted to form the Feral Cat Advisory Committee, the decision coming with the support of many residents and animal welfare groups and after a divisive discussion of the matter in December 2023.

Feral cats became a focal point of city business after an audio recording of the city’s Wildlife Advisory Committee and former City Manager Peggy Smith talking about lethal means of management surfaced on social media. In the aftermath, the city lost its contract with the Hill Country Humane Society, Smith resigned, and dozens of passionate cat supporters flooded City Hall during subsequent council meetings.

Six people were appointed to the new committee during the council meeting Tuesday night. They will gather officially for the first time at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at City Hall to plan a systematic approach to trapping, neutering, and releasing feral cats in Granite Shoals. 

The committee’s mission is to follow the TNR method of feral cat management, which calls for neutering/spaying captured cats and then releasing them with an identifying marker, such as a clipped ear or tattoo. Supporting the city and committee are Lionhearts TNR, HOPE Animal Clinic, Hill Country Cats, and PetPals

Lionhearts Director James Tieman donated several live-catch traps to Granite Shoals using money raised through a GoFundMe campaign for TNR efforts.

“I hope this gives the TNR team a good kickstart,” he said.

Hill Country Cats President Mary Ruwart estimated that about 1,660 feral cats call Granite Shoals home. She presented a plan to the council to work with the committee to trap the majority of the population within the next year. Hill Country Cats is offering the use of 60 of its live-catch traps and trained trappers to get the ball rolling.

HOPE Animal Clinic Medical Director Dr. Natalia Lord offered her expertise and services to the city and the committee at cost. She said she will conduct the spaying/neutering, vaccinating, and ear-clipping in large clinic events as long as they are planned ahead of time. The process would cost $90 for female cats and $75 for male cats, she said.

Lord also offered to help the city obtain grants to pay for TNR programs and organize community funding.

Granite Shoals is still in negotiations with the Hill Country Humane Society on a new stray animal services contract, but Mayor Ron Munos and Police Chief John Ortis both stated at Tuesday night’s meeting that talks were moving in the right direction.

Before its unanimous vote, the City Council discussed creating an overarching domestic animal advisory committee rather than a cats-only committee, but ultimately chose the latter because of public interest.

“I would rather keep it just cats because that is where the firestorm started to begin with,” said Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort.

dakota@thepicayune.com