Group to address feral cat issue

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 9:45am

A group of volunteers is committed to addressing Block Island’s feral cat population, and are seeking funding to bolster their initiative. The group’s efforts include trapping, transport, neutering and other medical treatment, and returning the cats to their island colonies. Part of their efforts include finding homes for the animals on the island, and through adoption on the mainland.

The program, called the Block Island Feral Cats Initiative, received the “full support” and unanimous approval (4-0) of the New Shoreham Town Council at the Council’s Nov. 15 meeting. Councilor Chris Willi was absent from the meeting. The Council is drafting a letter of support for the initiative, which the group can utilize to apply for grants and raise funds for its mission.

On its new Facebook page, the group, led by Susanna Lehman and Maggie Kent, wrote: “Thank you to the Town Council members, and further thanks to the Town of New Shoreham for recognizing the importance of this cause. Cheers to another step in the right direction!!!!” Mimi Leveille, and Lonni Todd, who spearheaded the not-for-profit Block Island Volunteers for Animals, and is an advocate for controlling the feral cat population, are both aiding the group’s efforts.

“It’s not okay to let what’s happening” with the feral cat population on the island, said Lehman at the Town Council meeting. “Something has to be done. The most important thing is having your support.”

Kent said the group intends to work through the winter on trapping the cats and taking them off island where they will be treated, or put up for adoption at the Rhode Island Community Spay/Neuter Clinic.

“We’ve trapped about 48 cats,” said Lehman, who noted that there are “eight colonies” of feral cats on Block Island.  Lehman told the Council that the cats are “unsocialized,” and instead of euthanizing them they are sterilized and returned to their island colonies.

Lehman also said the feral cats play a pivotal role in reducing the island’s rodent population. Rodents on the island contribute to the spread of Lyme disease, as deer ticks bite them and then transmit the disease.

Second Warden Norris Pike said that his “main concern” about the feral cats is that they also kill the birds. “Returning them to the island does nothing for me,” said Pike.

In response, Lehman said that not all of the cats are returned to the island, as some are adopted on the mainland. 

First Warden Ken Lacoste said that it’s “good news” that a certain percentage of the cats are not returned to the island. Lacoste made the motion to  support the effort, which was seconded by Councilor André Boudreau.

The group is creating a GoFundMe page in order to raise funding for its initiative. 

Donations can be mailed to Block Island Feral Cats Initiative at: P.O. Box 1324, Block Island, RI 02807, and made payable to RICSNC, Rhode Island Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. A specific fund associated with RICSNC is called “Block Island Cats.” 

All donations received are used to address the island’s feral cat initiative.