JOHN MEYERS: My love for cats doesn't extend to the feral variety

One household (in my neighborhood) reportedly has eight cats and another several houses away has six cats. They roam the neighborhood at night at will, and whether they really belong to a household is not known; however, they are well-fed and look very healthy. They are feral cats, meaning wild, that is!

Whether they are spayed or not is not known, but apparently they are not because they continue to propagate and their numbers continue to grow. They urinate all over and smell up the place, and when they come onto my property, my dog Charlie, who sleeps on the screened-in porch, goes bananas, much to the consternation of the neighbors, I'm guessing.

Now after a call to Animal Control and explaining this grave problem, they answered, "We don't do cats." And they also state that there is no ordinance on cats, "But we do have a trap that is available and you can reserve it; but there is a three-week wait." I said, "Put me on the waiting list. There can't be more than four or five more cats born while I wait for the trap."

After explaining the situation to my fellow neighbors and golfers, one stated that he had a large trap in which he caught several raccoons. He offered to lend me the trap. Boy, am I going to show Animal Control how to solve this problem! I called Animal Control and told them to take me off the waiting list for the trap.

After borrowing the trap, I baited it with a little can of expensive Alaskan red salmon. I knew I had caught something the first night because Charlie announced it! I picked up the trap and this feral cat snarled, snapped and lunged for me. I placed the cage in my garage. My tee time was 9:30, so kitty had to wait until I got back from golf to get it to Animal Control. When I got home after shooting my age again -- yes, 83! -- my wife, observing the goings-on, said, "The poor thing has had no water for about four hours." I countered with, "I know but he/she has had a good meal of my expensive Alaskan red salmon."

On the way to Animal Control, my dog Charlie kept looking out the back window of my truck, quite attentive to the trap in the back. Upon entering Animal Control on Rockbridge Road near Sigman Road, I explained the situation, whereupon the center manager retrieved the feral cat from the back of my truck. It snarled and snapped at him too, and from all appearances, it was well-fed and healthy. Animal Control wanted identification from me, and after spilling the contents of my wallet on the counter, I finally found my driver's license. You need to give your phone number, too! I thanked them after suggesting that there should be an ordinance about feral cats in the county. I said, "Maybe I'll see you tomorrow -- there are only 13 more to go and I think I have enough money to buy another can of expensive Alaskan red salmon," the apparent preferred brand of feral cats in my neighborhood.

I set the trap again with the remnants of the first can of expensive Alaskan red salmon. At 5:20 a.m. the next morning, I knew from Charlie's announcement that we had struck again at the feral cat problem! This time I had placed a little plastic cup of water in the trap to please my wife. (Doesn't a Chardonnay go well with expensive Alaskan red salmon?) I had another appointment at 10 a.m. so I had to hurry to Animal Control. This time I left Charlie home and had my driver's license handy. An employee of Animal Control went out to my truck and got a "tiger" cat, which snapped, snarled and lunged at him too all the way back into the bowels of the Animal Control center.

I told Animal Control, "I'm done. I'm not going after the other 12. I just wanted to demonstrate the problem." I encouraged them to write to the Rockdale Citizen and outline the problem. I got blank stares in return, although everyone was most courteous and helpful. Neither of the cats I turned into Animal Control were tagged, nor did they have a collar.

Now, I love animals. I have a dog, Charlie, and a cat, Chloe, who is domesticated. Chloe only goes outside with me each afternoon to take in the American flag for the day. Charlie is neutered and Chloe is spayed, so I don't worry even if they escape my care for a very short time.

So, members of the Board of Commissioners, whose portraits adorn the walls of most every department in county government, what are you going to do about this growing problem? It is widespread, unhealthy and detrimental to the safety of all Rockdale County citizens. An ordinance should state: "If you feed feral cats, you are responsible for getting them spayed and tagged and for caring for them in your yard."

I thank you, and so do Charlie and Chloe!

John B. Meyers, a Rockdale County resident, retired from General Motors after 24 years in labor relations. He is the former personnel director for Rockdale County.