SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Stray and feral cats are an ongoing problem in South Pittsburg, and city leaders are considering ways to solve it.
Until now, stray cats were euthanized by volunteers not long after being caught, but last week the South Pittsburg City Commission agreed to stop that practice until its next meeting March 12 while members examine alternative methods.
"We need to get some more information and maybe talk to our area vets," Mayor Jane Dawkins said. "We need to get on this. This is a now problem, and it doesn't have an easy solution."
Representatives with Marion Animal Rescue Connection, a volunteer organization aiming to improve the lives of animals in the county, think they might have an answer.
MARC volunteer Sue Scruggs asked officials to look into a "more workable and effective option" called Trap-Neuter-Return.
Under that method, trapped stray cats would be spayed or neutered and then returned to the areas from which they were caught, officials said.
"Catching and killing these cats does not work," Scruggs said. "It causes a vacuum effect."
In this "vacuum effect," she said, killing stray cats only causes the "void" they left behind to be filled up with other cats that weren't caught or their offspring.
"We need to look at a more effective approach," she said. "Once you spay or neuter all these cats, they won't have any more babies, and you don't keep expanding the number of litters exponentially."
Scruggs said she wants to call in experts on the method so the rescue group and city officials can look into its "realities."
"It doesn't seem like a quick answer, but [the city] has been killing cats for a long time and it hasn't made a difference," animal rescue volunteer April Bowden said.
City officials said they get daily requests from residents for cages or traps so stray cats can be captured.
For now, the city will not provide those, Dawkins said.
Residents may contact the rescue group at 423-240-9074 or email marc4change@hot mail.com to examine other options, she said.