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Grants Pass Considers 'Kitty Cap' On Household Pets

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Grants Pass city councilors are trying to tackle a feral cat problem. The possible solution? Placing a limit on the number of cats a household could have within city limits.

Grants Pass councilors say there are tens of thousands of feral cats in and around the city, so they’re considering a “kitty cap” ordinance. The hope is that fewer family cats running around town would result in fewer ferals.

At their early October meeting, Grants Pass councilors discussed the issue at length and ultimately advised city staff to draft a “kitty cap” ordinance. They didn’t propose a specific number.

Grants Pass currently has a dog cap ordinance. Households within city limits can have up to three dogs.

Councilor Tyler Flaming suggested that staff look for other cities with cat-cap ordinances.
“We’re not breaking new ground here,” Flaming said. “I guarantee someone out there is doing something,” said Flaming.

This isn’t the first time Grants Pass councilors have discussed the city’s struggles with feral cats. In the past, they’ve considered requiring households to license their pet cats with the county, which is already a requirement for pet dogs.

Grants Pass Director of Public Safety Warren Hensman told councilors that licensing cats would be difficult, since cats tend to be roaming creatures and some people feed cats that live around their homes, but they won’t claim them as pets.

Hensman suggested the city find a way to spay and neuter feral cats instead of using a “catch and kill” method, which he said is inhumane. But Josephine County Public Health Director Mike Weber told councilors that the county doesn’t have to means to support such a program, and that there isn’t a local nonprofit or other agency that does.

“The reality is those systems don't exist,” Weber said. “We’re really building from the ground up on this. There are some capabilities in the community but nothing coming near to the scope we need to address the problem.”

The county is also seeking grant funds for a new animal clinic that would spay and neuter feral cats. 

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.