Plattsburgh voters to decide on new regulations on feral cats

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PLATTSBURGH,NY – Plattsburgh voters will decide Thursday whether to make people who feed or care for feral cats also responsible for vaccinating the animals and having a microchip implanted.

City Councilor Peter Ensel, who represents Ward 4, drafted the latest version of the proposed law, which he said was an attempt to bring together people on both sides of the issue.

“I think we came to a happy medium,” Ensel said.

“If you care for a cat either by feeding or what have you, you now take ownership of that cat,” he said. “You’re caring for them by feeding them. So, you are now responsible for it.”

Feral cats are typically born in the wild and continue to live outdoors without a permanent home, said Rebecca King of Eagle’s Nest Veterinary Hospital said. But in many cases, she said, the animals have been abandoned.

“If you think of a cat as a disposable pet then that’s a problem,” she said.

The new law would define a feral cat’s “owner” as anyone who regularly feeds the animal or allows it to remain on its property. They would be responsible for making sure the cat is vaccinated

“There are a lot of potential health risks out there with cats that people may not know about, so getting them out of situations where they might be a risk to people is something worth doing,” King said.

Cats four months or older would have to be microchipped so the animal can be traced back to the owner, who would also be responsible for damages to property caused by the cat.

“We are not asking the building inspectors or the police department to be vigilantes about this, as it’s complaint driven,” Ensel said.

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