A small feral cat population's numbers are dwindling at a Hillsborough property, prompting some residents to speculate on the cause of their disappearance.
John Adams, a local resident and cat owner, is worried that some are taking drastic actions to reduce the numbers among the outdoor cat community. “This is a nightmare that we have to deal with,” he said.
Adams, a resident of Hillsborough Gardens Apartments, speculates that feral cats are being poisoned after some starting disappearing and one turned up dead.
“There’s an issue here. They really are poisoning the cats,” he believes.
Adams originally sought to have the cats trapped, neutered and released back to their mainstays and notified the Health Department and St. Hubert's Giralda Animal Control. That way, they’d be able to live out their lives in relative peace and without multiplying.
The apartments' rental management company, however, which could not be reached for comment, did not want trappings taking place on their property. Instead, according to Adams, they began enforcing $700 fines for each cat that he fed, trying to flush them out.
“It would just be nice if the… issue were dealt with the right way,” said Adams.
But as more attention began to be focused on the seven or so cats that took refuge in the apartment’s crawlspace and driveway areas, Adams and a neighbor noticed that the cats began to disappear. Then, his ultimate fear was confirmed when a dead cat was spotted near the feral hotspot.
“I found this bag of poison,” said Adams. “And now another cat is missing. The lady upstairs saw a dead cat too!”
Kim Saunders, the vice president of St. Hubert’s Giralda, said, “We’re aware of the situation at the complex. However, there is no confirmation that there has been poisonings. We looked to assist the health department with trappings, so the cats don’t increase their numbers, but the complex did not want them done on the property.”
Rhonda Baginski, president of CAPIC Cat Information and Pet Adoption Center, said, “John reached out to us, to help with the cats. I didn’t go to the location, but as far as I know, there were no trappings allowed.”
She also said that if in fact there are rules against feral cats in the complex’s by-laws, then they may be in their right to demand Adams to stop feeding them. How they handle the matter, however, still must conform to the law.
According to Joan Beard, vice president of CAPIC, who made phone calls on behalf of Adams, the complex’s management firmly states that absolutely no poisoning is taking place at the Gardens Apartments.
Adams, however, is driven to help the township find a solution to the growing cat problem. He urges anyone who sees a stray or feral cat to contact CAPIC or Carol’s Cats Rescue in Hillsborough. You can contact the former at 908-526-5045 and the latter at 908-874-4660.
A perk of the track-neuter-release program, as Adams points out, is that for just $25, a resident can have a cat fixed and returned, with a voucher for the animal cared for.
For those interested in the program, visit the Animal Protection League of NJ. As Janine Motta, the programs manager at APLNJ said, “TNR is a job that animal control cannot do on their own. They need to enlist public support.”