Facebook post going viral as Urbanna Cat Project clashes with mayor over feral cat colony

This is one of those occasions where feral cat caregivers in particular (and cat lovers in general) need to join forces to save a feral cat colony in Virginia. Located in Urbanna are a group of 28 feral cats. At some point, vultures have descended upon the town and the cats are being blamed. Now the town mayor wants the cats to suffer. The beds that kept them warm over the winter are now in storage, and the threat of not being allowed to feed the cats and perhaps even remove them from the town has sent Facebook into a firestorm of activity this weekend.

Feral cat in Urbanna, Virginia (Urbanna Cat Project)

The nonprofit Urbanna Cat Project obtained a grant and spayed/neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped the town’s feral kitties. They are extremely well fed by faithful colony caretakers and the entire thing has been a great success bringing the colony’s numbers from 40 to 28 since they aren’t reproducing over the years.

Well, the mayor Steve Hollberg seems to think the cats are a nuisance and an embarrassment so on March 23 he ordered the caretakers to CEASE FEEDING THE CATS ALTOGETHER! Yes, that’s right. They are to just let the cats starve to death. Also, he ordered the caretakers to take up all the cat shelters immediately and the temperatures dipped into the 33 F range. After all the money, time, hard work and love the volunteers have given the cats over the years, not to mention, I’m sure this can be classified as animal neglect! Thankfully the cats are still being fed and the feeders aren’t being harassed-yet…

The history of the Urbanna town cats is a long one. The feral cats have been there for more than 30 years. The town applied for a grant from Petsmart awhile back and the money was used to spay/neuter around 300 cats from the area. The vulture issue is why the cats are in danger of being denied food and possibly even removed from the area. After the oyster festival (for which the town is famous), the giant birds created havoc in Urbanna and the cats are getting blamed.

When Mayor Hollberg was asked why the cats should be removed, he told a representative of the Urbanna Cat Project the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had suggested the birds could be there due to the cats. The USDA did NOT order the volunteers to take up the houses or stop feeding the cats. The Urbanna Cat Project director, Suzanne White, researched this theory and learned the cats are not what attracted the vultures.

As for now, the cats are being fed twice a day by volunteers. There’s a morning feeding and an evening feeding. The cats are allowed to eat while the volunteers wait so their bowls can be taken up and removed from the area. So far no one has been approached and told to stop feeding the cats.

We all need to contact Mayor Hollberg and let him know how we feel about this right away. Since he doesn’t have an email on the town website, we can email the town administrator Holly Gailey at h.gailey@urbannava.gov or call the town office at 804-758-2613. Also, go add to the comments on their Facebook community page. Please be respectful but firm in any correspondence with town leaders. All we’re asking is for the cats to continue to be cared for, including shelter.

Mayor Hollberg made a public statement Saturday on the town Facebook page stating:

“The shelters have been moved across Virginia Street to Allen Group, so that is the solution for the time being and that’s roughly three properties away, not even half a block. It’s appropriate and a fantastic compromise, rather than imposing on property owners who don’t want the feeding stations on their private property and that’s come to light from this exercise. For those of you concerned, I’m told there are only 28 cats out of the original population, so if we can find people to accept them, that would be really great. If we could split that small population among four folks, that would help spread the burden. It’s a tribute to the Urbanna Pet Project the population has reduced, apparently. Great volunteer spirit on their part, we just need to adjust the model a bit. Thanks for your concern!!”

Unfortunately, the mayor has it all wrong. The feral cats do not have shelters now, and the Allen Group has not invited the cats and their shelters to move onto their property. They’re not aggressive and are very shy. But permission is needed if the cats are to live elsewhere in Urbanna.

Feral cats are included in all companion animal cruelty laws in the state of Virginia. The code states:

Code of Virginia — Title 3.2 – Chapter 65 — Comprehensive Animal Care Law — Description of Animal Cruelty in § 3.2-6570
“Companion animal” means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person.

And please, cat trolls, don’t start in on saying feral cats are an “invasive species” because domestic dogs are on the list as well. Click here and scroll down to mammals. You don’t hear anyone saying domestic dogs need removing, now do you? If the feral cats are removed from Urbanna, more cats (ready, willing and able to produce kittens) will most likely fill the vacancy they left behind.

I sincerely hope Hollberg thinks about the options. To allow the 28 remaining cats to die out naturally over a period of about 10 years (where they’re much loved and cared for), or have them removed and dozens come to take their place.

For more on the Urbanna Cat Project, check out their Facebook page.




Facebook Discussion

Comments

Facebook post going viral as Urbanna Cat Project clashes with mayor over feral cat colony — 27 Comments

  1. Please explain to me how vultures are the reason that feral cats are causing problems,this Mayor needs a swift kick in the arse .
    Wot worries me is that PETA is located in VA and they would enjoy trapping these babies and killing them .

  2. The vultures in that town came from a house in the area that has been condemned and once something is done with that they will disappear. People have to understand that vultures are part of the life cycle and they are cleaning up the decomposing life in the town. These cats have nothing to do with it. The mayor is only afraid the vultures will pick his sorry ass bones. May he gets what is due to him. I have raised 5 ferals myself and they are awesome. Keep everything around my house cleaned up. Just remember a person that wants to harm animals are usually sociopaths so what’s they say about THE MAYOR!

  3. Anyone new posting a comment to this section will have to wait until morning for the website owner to moderate. This is a dangerous article due to cat trolls trying to sneak into the conversation. You’re welcome to post to Facebook comment section above for it to immediately show up.

  4. Mr. Mayor – you are totally ignorant in so many ways. Please educate yourself about well-maintained feral cat colonies. These are sentient creatures. They are doing your town no harm – in fact, they are a benefit. It is no fault of their own that they are on the streets. The fact that you would advocate a cruel, painful death for these beautiful creatures makes me sick. You have no heart. I will never visit your town and I will spread the word about how what is transpiring so others will also never visit. Get a clue.

  5. We know the benefits of having maintained colonies, feral and non ferals that people have dumped out. However there is no excuse EVER to inflict pain and suffering on animals. I do not understand, cannot understand, and will never understand governments’reactions to colony cats. It is immoral to starve and deny humane treatment to them. Local people need to express their disgust with such actions.

  6. I am not a resident of Urbanna! But I am in home health nursing and cam across some feral kitties along my travels and began feeding them this past winter, they depended on these feedings! The cats were not hurting a soul! And if I still come across kitties I will still in fact feed them I don’t care what that hearltless ignorant mayor has to say about it!!! His only excuse of not feeding them is because it’s a embarrassment??? Really??? He’s the embarrassment and maybe he needs to reconsider his actions due to the fact that Urbanna is a seasonal and relies on seasonal revenues from people that visit this town! Most people I have come across in Urbanna are all animal lovers and are very involved with the wellness of all animals!!!! So he better reconsider his heartless actions!!!! I could say a whole lot more but I’ll just leave it at this!!!

  7. These cats provide a service to your community keeping rats-out of your food and out of attics and food where houses as well as your home attics, they also discourages snake by killing the snakes arounddyour home. This many cats is the fault of the community people they dump their pets and
    God forbid they get their cats fixed even though many services fix animals for free. LAZY!
    Taking their resources away by ceasing to sterilize them and prevent future litters is the illiterate, heartless decision of a bone head! It’s Your mayors responsibility to humanely care for the entire community. Put the TNR program in action, feeding stations filled up again, and give them back their warm beds. What the hell is wrong with people ion power? I thought this state had a beautiful heart, apparently you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

  8. The cat ignorance in this situation is as expected. There is a concrete mindset that, if cats aren’t fed, that they will just go away. I’ve tried, tried, tried to educate many but, as I’ve said, their beliefs are concrete.
    Those who want to eradicate cats will come up with any excuse. As cited already, vultures are scavengers. Perhaps more attention should be paid to how people are securing their garbage and how effective the city cleanup is.

  9. 1. It is a FELONY in all 50 US States to harm ANY cat. If you see anyone doing so, report them to the authorities and insist they respond.
    2. Vultures are nature’s clean-up crew. They do not harm humans.
    3. Well managed and cared for TNR’d community cats are an asset to their locations, because they keep rodent populations down, thereby keeping diseases they carry down. They are a joy to the majority of the public, who love to see their beauty and agility.
    4. And yes, alleycat.org. For information, facts, and assistance.

  10. Sadly it is NOT a felony to harm cats here in Ohio. Furthermore it’s only a misdemeanor for dog fighting in Ohio. I have called the police to report a neighbor threatening to kill ALL my cats and the police dispatcher said “So what, if they kill your cats, oh well!” They don’t care about these threats. I will continue to feed the ferals and friendly strays as long as I live.

  11. These poor animals are like children depending on love and kindness of people leaving them to starve is cruel it’s scary the people out there who think animals don’t have feelings how sad…and mice and other toxic critters with plenty of diseases will run rampant.maybe if people would have their cats spayed or neutered this feral 🐱 cat population wouldn’t be out of control they wouldn’t have to worry about it but I guess euthuniza solves the problem right. That’s nice punish these cats for the person’s own ignorance..how sad life is important whether it walks on two legs or four legs

  12. I think that our American society is falling fast. Wild Dogs and cats in an urban town are a nuisance. They get into trash cans, destroy other wildlife that are normally found in nature, kill baby rabbits, squirrels, and such.Yes they also catch mice, which is good, but overall, these wild cats are much more of a problem than any benefit. I feel the same way about dogs. Either adopt them, and care for them, provide appropriate vaccinations, food and care, and control them so as not to allow them to be a pest to your neighborhood. Citizens should be given respect for their lives, not to have to hear the cat fighting at 2: am, and the other damages these wild cats sometimes cause, plus the potential health issues to other animals and to humans. If you like cat’s, get one, get it neutered, vaccinated, and control it’s actions as much as you reasonably can, to keep it from being a nuisance to others. Simply, be a good citizen, think of the neighbor first, humans should take priority.

  13. No, humans should not take priority. We would not have ferals, cats or dogs if humans made their care a priority. These animals are let down by humans and now this idiot mayor decides to blame the cats! Leave the kitties and their responsible kind caretakers alone, period. That is the right and compassionate thing to do or let’s put the mayor out in cold weather with no food or shelter, he might respond differently then. For God’s sake, do not let PETA (People Euthanizing Their Animals) get involved, they will kill every kitty they can find. You do have a troll above who I responded but I love this article and thank you caretakers.

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