This is a classic community cat story from Meridian Township, Okemos, Michigan, USA, reported by Judy Putnam of the Lansing State Journal. There are two feral cat colonies near a couple of large retail outlets, Big Lots store on Grand River Avenue and Home Depot on Newman Road.
It is unfortunate that these cat colonies are near retail outlets because this is the source of friction between business management and the feral cat advocates and volunteers who are looking after the cats and have done so for a very long time.
It is claimed by those who are against the presence of the cats, and the retail managers, that raccoons are being attracted to feeding stations at the cat colonies. They have been the cause of complaints by customers at the Big Lots store according to a corporate spokesman for the business. They say that the raccoons were acting aggressively towards customers and that there have been instances when customers have been frightened of them.
They also say that store employees have to use the front door to load furniture instead of the usual back door until they have resolved the raccoon issue.
Further, a feral cat advocate, Laura Luptowski Seeley, a writer in Meridian Township who is the founder of a non-profit called The Cat Ambassador, said that local police have stopped cat rescuers from looking for feral cats in the past few days.
An unknown person, perhaps somebody associated with the retail outlets, decided to take action and has uprooted and thrown away shelters for these cats. They’ve been thrown on a dumpster between Home Depot and Late Trust Credit Union on Newman Road. Also, shelters that were used by three known cats, one brown, one black and a black-and-white cat were found missing last week from the Big Lots location.
Cat advocates are becoming worried. It seems, however, that the feral cat population has got out of hand. It appears that volunteers have been placing shelters in visible spots and feeding them in the open in parking lots. The township managers say that they were not involved in removing the shelters. The director of community planning and development said that there had been complaints of trespassers feeding the cats and placing cat shelters on private property. This is how the police became involved.
No one has has been cited with the misdemeanour of trespassing. Concerned cat advocates want to conduct standard TNR work on these cats and there is also a discussion about relocating some cats to a barn. This would provide an immediate reduction in the numbers.
One cat advocate, and a local resident, Bob Miller, who has been involved in TNR together with Michele Pursley, said that businesses should understand that they must take care not to create negative publicity about their businesses over ill-treatment of the colony cats. He is prepared to talk to the management of the businesses.
There has been some attempt to talk to them. Laura Luptowski Seeley said that she had contacted the owner of the plaza where Big Lots is located in effort to discuss the removal of the cats but she was refused access. She’s tried to help resolve the problem but faced an uncooperative management.
The problem is currently unresolved as I understand it. It certainly needs a discussion between cat advocates and the management of these retail outlets to find a humane way forward.
Source: MSN Mews and Judy Putnam of the Lansing State Journal.