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Lavallette to Review Options for Feral Cat Control After Suspected Population Increase

Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)

Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)

Lavallette officials said they would review the borough’s animal control policies after hearing concern from residents over what they believe to be an increasing population of feral cats in some areas of town.

Earlier this week, a President Avenue resident addressed the governing body on the matter, telling council members that the cat population is growing and the animals have been seen darting into traffic and becoming injured.

“We do have a few people who are feeding these cats,” she said. “I’m an animal lover, so I don’t want to see the cats hurt. My neighbor across the street got three cats, but we have dozens around us – I don’t want to be the bad guy; I feel bad confronting my neighbor and causing an argument.”

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Mayor Walter LaCicero said the borough currently shares an animal control officer with Seaside Heights, though the workload has increased recently. In a particularly disturbing scene, a pregnant cat was recently hit by a car near President Avenue, necessitating a major cleanup. Residents have reported many kittens having been born recently.

“I am working with the county on this,” said Council President Anita Zalom.

One plan under consideration is a “trap, neuter, release” program, however those programs are generally funded through donations and “staffed” by residents who volunteer, which could prove challenging in a town with a large seasonal population. In neighboring Seaside Heights, the program was not considered successful, as some people began deviating from the rules of the program, ultimately attracting more animals. Though it would likely surprise most animal lovers, resort towns up and down the Jersey Shore frequently report an influx of stray cats after the summer season due to people leaving their pets behind after visiting.

LaCicero said in previous years, a borough employee with animal handling training received a stipend to trap feral cats and relocate them to a shelter, however that person is no longer working in town.

“We have some new employees here, so maybe we should offer it again,” he said.

The matter is expected to be brought up again at a future meeting.

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