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Johnston County's feral cat dilemma

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CLAYTON, N.C. -

The feral feline population in Johnston County is booming. Animal groups estimate that there are more than 100,000 feral cats in the county.

Tammy Godusi is a volunteer with the Johnston County Animal Protection League and has been keeping track of cat colonies in the area. She's recorded 25 of them, but believes there are many more.

She asked WNCN not to publish the location of the colonies, explaining people have tried to poison the cats before.

"We need to stop the multiplying and it's going to continue. It's a problem that's really festering," said Godusi.

It's also a health risk. After bats, veterinarians say the most common exposure people have to rabies is from cats.

At a meeting in the Morning Glory Inn in Clayton, a group of vets, concerned citizens, and animal rights groups had a lively discussion about what to do with the overpopulation.

A veterinarian said, "There's a risk to other cats, there's a risk to the native bird population, there's a risk to people."

Some ideas tossed around included TNR, which means trap, neuter, and release. But some say that's not enough. "It's a drop in the bucket," said one attendee.

Right now the most pressing issue with the booming feral cat population is how to limit the health risks.

Ernie Wilkinson is the Director of Johnston County Animal Services and was at the meeting.

"They're dangerous. They transmit disease. They're dangerous to handle and the sad thing about it is, there's just so many of them," Wilkinson said.

Animal Services had to euthanize 700 cats in the last two months alone and it's costing taxpayers big bucks. "The average cost is $7 to $9 a piece," said Wilkinson.

Animal groups expect the population of feral cats in Johnston county to double, by next year, if they don't come up with a realistic solution. 

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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