Task Force Addresses Growing Wild Cat Problem

A task force is working to determine whether Fort Smith has too many wild cats roaming its streets.

Fort Smith’s Animal Services Advisory Board says it wants to stop the feral cat population from becoming a problem before it gets any worse. To do that, board members say they need some input from Fort Smith residents.

Specifically, the board wants to know where the feral cat problem is in Fort Smith and just how bad others think it is.

Not to be confused with domesticated outdoor cats, feral cats have  not been socialized by humans and are like any other wild animal.

Dr. Jon Remer, a Fort Smith veterinarian and member of the Animal Services Advisory Board, says the life of a feral cat is a tough one. Feral cats face disease, starvation, attack from other animals, being hit by a car and harsh weather extremes. When the temperatures drop, feral cats will look for places to hide from the bitter cold.

“We have a feral cat that was underneath the hood of a car in the winter,” explained Dr. Remer of his clinic’s resident cat, Salem. “They started the car, the fan belt came across, lacerated her feet, and removed one of her feet.”

Since feral cats are exposed to other wild animals, they may carry diseases. Nichole Morgan, chairman of the board, says it’s important to address the feral cat problem before it becomes a public health concern.

“They’re not an out and out active danger, but as they get bigger and we don’t want them in our area, or if kids want to try and interact with them because they have Fluffy at home, then it becomes more of a problem,” Morgan said.

According to the ASPCA, the average cat produces one or two litters each year, with about four to six kittens per litter.

The best way to manage the growing population is by controlling how fast the cats breed, according to Dr. Remer. He says the most humane and the most effective way to control the population is to catch the tom cats, vasectomize them and then release them back to their cat colonies.

“We tend to expect a greater decrease in the colony’s numbers because that cat will chase all other in tact males off, and every cat that he mates with will be infertile,” Dr. Remer said.

Dr. Remer said neutering male cats will cut off their hormone supply, and, as a result, the male cats will no longer be driven to fight off other male cats attempting to invade their territory. A new male cat will simply move in and take over the “pride,” Remer said.

Remer said euthanization is also not the best way to manage the population because the cats will breed faster than authorities are able to euthanize them.

At this point, the board asks people to report feral cats to the animal control officers at the Fort Smith Police Department so they can begin tracking the colonies. If the board determines there is a feral cat problem in Fort Smith, they will apply for grants to cover the cost to fund the program at no cost to the city, Morgan said.

6 comments

  • Anon

    If our city leaders would pass a spay and neuter law, instead of dismissing it as “unimportant”, we might not have this problem. Feral cats don’t just appear out of thin air – they come from domesticated cats breeding and people not caring enough about what happens to the kittens (not their problem!) and they run off and turn wild. Spay and neuter law wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem, but it would certainly help.

  • cmc080704

    I live in the South Meadows addition, right of of Texas Rd. We have dozens, if not hundreds, of feral cats out here. While I am not a huge fan of cats, I don’t like for any animal to get run over, and there are just too many getting hit, or starved to death, or dying of diseases or from fighting other cats. PLEASE, SOMEONE DO SOMETHING!

    • ns

      your right, there is a lot of cats in that area. i lived there for two almost three years and its crazy how many animals, especially cats, are let loose in that area.the city does need to step up and do something more instead of letting it go and crazy.

  • Cindy Cook Wright

    I moved to arkansas 4 yrs ago and have rescued many since I lived here, I also pay out of my own pocket to catch and release/ kitties and canines help alot, I have written and called many people for some kind of non profit help with no response, I still rescue after 4 yrs in fort smith and catch and release in van buren, now as well so any help would be appreciated :) , just dont catch and kill them they didnt ask for this life, they need love and attention too :)

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