LIHUE >> Kauai is considering requiring cat owners to license their pets as part of an attempt to control problems with feral felines.
The Garden Island newspaper reported the county bill would also require owners who allow their cats to roam free to spay or neuter the animals.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said if the county doesn’t address its issues with pets, the community will have many problems. Yukimura introduced the bill last week.
“Cat licensing is a way to control the population of cats, because it’s tied to neutering — an uncontrolled population of cats is a public health, environmental and community concern,” Yukimura said.
A draft of the bill sets license fees at $10 for spayed or neutered cats and $30 for unsterilized cats.
The bill sets fines for cat owners who allow cats over 4 months old to roam free without being sterilized. Officials say owners who keep their cats confined would not be required to have their pet sterilized.
Executive Director Penny Cistaro of the Kauai Humane Society said 900 more stray cats than dogs were brought in during the last fiscal year. She said only 10 percent of cats, compared with 56 percent of dogs, were retrieved by owners.
Councilmembers will consider the bill Jan. 15.
Annette Oda of Lihue criticized the proposal, saying it is a waste of time and money.
“Whoever started or initiated the bill apparently doesn’t understand the nature of a cat,” Oda said. “You can’t treat a cat like a dog, so basically I am really frustrated and disappointed that the county council would dare to spend valuable time and money, which is a scarcity in this day and age, on cats and dogs.”
Lonnie Sykos of Kappa said he likes that the measure would make it easier for humane society workers to identify feral and domesticated cats.
“How to balance the population of feral cats versus domestic cats is a thorny issue, but we need to come up with an objective way to deal with this and not a bunch of subjective guidelines that ultimately aren’t going to resolve the problem,” said Sykos, who owns three cats.