Stray cats in abundance at Estill Springs City Park have prompted the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to take action to control them.
Reports have been made that up to 100 stray cats have been seen at a given time in the City Park, and the board is taking steps to keep park visitors from feeding them and promoting their presence there.
Mayor David Kelley informed the board Thursday that the stray animals have become a major issue because they are carrying diseases and inbreeding.
The diseases that the cats have contracted are feline leukemia and feline AIDS that cannot be contracted by humans.
However, rabies is a threat due to the chances of someone being scratched as is cat scratch fever.
The diseases were found in the cats when a citizen took them to a veterinarian in the hopes of using them as a Christmas present.
Kelley mentioned the town already has an ordinance that feeding stray animals is prohibited.
He said that three individuals keep feeding the cats after being told multiple times to stop. He added that one individual told him she sanitizes her hands after feeding them, but that is not allowed, according to city law.
Some of the cats have birth defects due to inbreeding and are diseased and should not be touched, Kelley said.
He said city employees have put shelters up for the animals, along with litter-box accommodations, but he will be getting animal control personnel involved to take the cats away from the park for safety reasons.
Kelley explained that the health of the citizens comes first because city officials are elected with that as a main focus.
“I am not an animal hater, but when it comes to the health of our citizens, something has to be done,” Kelley said.
Police Chief Matt Baker stresses that the public not feed the cats and stay away from them when at the park.
Baker concurred with Kelley about how the animals have become a hazardous problem due to the potential to spread diseases.
He urges citizens to be cautious of cat feces because it could be a health problem.
Baker echoed Kelley’s stance that citizens should not feed or approach the animals due to the safety concern they present to the public.
Alderman JD Sons said dogs need to be kept on leashes and not allowed to run rampantly because they can come into contact with other animals that may be diseased.
Sons said animals should not be left unattended for their safety and not allowed to roam free in the park, according to the city’s park ordinance.
The park ordinance states all pets must be kept on a leash and not go unattended by the owners while in the park.
Kelley said the city park looks pretty, but the town needs to keep it looking pretty for citizens to enjoy.