Stray cats a problem 2014.06.11

The issue of wandering cats returned to city council Monday night and it was obvious that many residents consider them a major issue.

“Cats have more rights than I do,” said audience member Ed LaNew. “If I went and crapped in your yard, I’d go to jail.”

Resident James Chambers brought the issue up, asking council if any progress had been made since the last time it was discussed.

“There’s basically nothing we can do,” said mayor Bill Foster. “I wish I could give you a better answer.”

“Well there’s got to be something done in the city about these cats,” Chambers said. 

Foster said he expects the planning commission to discuss the issue, responding to a suggestion that licensing is needed as it is with dogs.

Chambers said his neighbor has five cats and they have torn up his garden.

“I have the biggest cat litter box in Morenci,” he said. “They tore everything up.”

Audience member Colleen Leddy asked if it would become a police matter if property damage occurred.

New police chief Mike Cresswell was asked if he has had any experience with the issue when he was with the sheriff’s department.

“Over the years we’ve run into the same problems,” he said. “As you explained, the Humane Society won’t take them.”

If a resident is experiencing property damage and can prove it was done by cats, a police report could be filed and the owner could be sued in small claims court. There’s no existing law that governs cat ownership as there is for dogs, he said.