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Spay your cats!

Growing feline population causing extra urban friction
Wildlife watchers say free-ranging cats account for significant losses every year

A Southeast Portland neighborhood controversy over a homeowner's right to trap trespassing cats highlights a larger issue for the metro area: how to keep the peace in the man-made ecosystem of city neighborhoods.
11/14/03 Oregonian

Mount Tabor resident Mike McCabe has gained notoriety for taking a neighbor's cat that he feared would harm the birds in his yard to Multnomah County Animal Services, where it was euthanized for lack of room.
But sentiment from residents all over Portland and its suburbs also indicates that in environments where disparate animals such as migratory birds, native snakes and invasive opossums are thrown together, cats are increasingly public enemy No. 1.

As people have become more diligent about trying to improve urban habitat, said Bob Sallinger, urban conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, they have become more frustrated with the destruction cats cause not only of birds but also of squirrels, raccoons and snakes.
Urban cat populations are growing, causing agencies and nonprofit groups to search for ways to mediate between the rights of property owners and the rights of pet owners.
"It's like the cigarette issue," said Kathy Covey of the Oregon Humane Society. "Where does the right to have a cat end and the right as a property owner begin?"
McCabe's actions caused controversy, which also affected one family unrelated to the incident. McCabe's phone number is not listed, but a Northeast Portland resident named Michael McCabe said several people angry about the cat-trapping had called his home and left threatening messages.
One man called at 2 a.m. Thursday to say he hoped McCabe "burned in hell." By Thursday afternoon, his wife had changed their answering machine greeting, telling callers that they were not the McCabes involved in the cat incident.
Cats outnumber dogs in Multnomah County, according to the county's animal shelter. Washington County Animal Services estimates that 70,000 cats populate its jurisdiction.
"There's a great overpopulation problem with cats," said Susan Field, community relations coordinator with Washington County Animal Services. Field said the overpopulation is caused in part by owners not being as diligent about spaying and neutering cats as dogs.
Sallinger said the growing numbers of cats contribute heavily to destroying urban wildlife habitat.
Low survival rate for victims From 1995 to 1999, 23 percent of the more than 3,000 injured animals brought to the Audubon Society each year were directly connected to cats, Sallinger said. The organization has received as many as 15 cat-caught birds a day. Animals caught by cats and brought into Audubon have a 14 percent survival rate.
Even in the hybrid environment created by urban neighborhoods where cats kill other pests, Sallinger said, "Cats add nothing to the ecosystem."
Animal control agencies may be hard-pressed to solve the problem. Like Multnomah County, Field said, Washington County's facility is always at capacity. A year and a half ago, the county shelter increased its cat capacity from 28 to 48 cages and was full again within two days. The county also lacks a licensing program.
Field said the agency has an active adoption program that sends outreach staff into schools and community groups, but that can't stop a certain amount of euthanasia.
Meanwhile, Clackamas County Animal Control doesn't deal with cats at all.
According to data collected by the Oregon Humane Society, in 2001, animal services agencies and humane societies took in about 20,000 cats that were relinquished by their owners and 23,000 that came in as strays. Of those, 16,500 cats were adopted, 600 were given back to their owners, and 26,000 were euthanized.
Keeping kitties indoors With those huge numbers, many experts, including Portland-area animal control agencies and the Oregon Humane Society, put the onus on cat owners to be more responsible. The answer, they say, lies in educating pet owners about the dangers of letting their cats roam free -- and the benefits of keeping them indoors.
"With a little patience, you can convert an indoor-outdoor cat to an indoor cat," said Covey, pointing to the use of scratching posts and toys, in addition to good access to window sills.
And if cat owners can't bear to keep their animals in, Covey offers this advice: "Microchip, microchip, microchip."
The grain of rice-sized chip fits between a cat's shoulder blades and includes the same information a collar does. While the chip helps identify the cat, it doesn't prevent it from trespassing. But, Covey said, neighbors encouraging each other to know the neighborhood's cats might mitigate the problems caused by such intrusion.
Covey adds that there are other ways for property owners to prevent cats from intruding in their yards than taking them to an overcrowded shelter. Cats are repelled by cayenne pepper and may not return to a place where they smelled it. The same goes for spraying cats with sprinklers, squirt bottles or hoses.
And more creative ways to let cats enjoy the outdoors without bothering the neighbors do exist. Doris Clevenger of Clackamas constructed a screen around her patio and a small patch of grass. She said she took in one cat that was used to roaming, and it has been happy in the enclosure.
"It's a long-term thing," Sallinger said, noting that cats are the one destructive part of the urban animal community that we do have control over. "You can keep your cat indoors. If we do that, we'll solve this problem in 20 or 30 years." Joseph Rose of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report. Portland News: 503-221-8199;  portland@news.oregonian.com
Another idea is to put bells on your cats collar to warn the birds or wildlife.

The Humane Society and Multnomah Co Animal Control should 14.Nov.2003 13:40


not be releasing any animals brought into the shelters without spaying or neutering them before they leave (and making the owner pay the fee if an owner retrieves the pet). Unfortunately, this is not the case. Common sense says that no animal leaving the doors of those agencies should ever contribute to the overpopulation problem again. Put pressure on those agencies and government to make them enact that policy. Animal Control doesn't do a damn thing to help with the problem.

Spay/Neuter IS the solution to overpopulation 14.Nov.2003 14:13


I am in complete agreement with you but lets not stop with just Multnomah County Animal Control.We need to hold Oregon Humane Society,ALL breeders and ALL pet stores to the same Spay/Neuter requirements.All too often breeders and pet stores will inform their customers that they can get back the purchase price of an animal with just a single litter......after that it is "free money."There is never an excuse to breed your animals and the ONLY excuse not to S/N is a VALID medical condition.

The above comment got some facts wrong 14.Nov.2003 14:44

Kitty Avenger

FYI - The Oregon Humane Society *does* require the s/n of pets before they leave the shelter. Mult. Co. also s/n's all animals unless an adopter specifically requests their own vet be used. Don't blame the shelters. The problem is irresponsible people who allow their pets to breed and contribute to the overpopulation problem. Also people who purchase/get animals from backyard breeders and pets stores who use BYBs and puppy mills. The MCAS especially does a lot for what little money they are given by Multnomah County. For anyone reading this - Spay/Neuter your pet!!! There are plenty of low-cost options if you can't afford to spend a lot of money. And if you can't afford to take proper care of your pet, *don't get one*. It's a big, lifetime responsibility. Don't purchase or get animals from pet stores or backyard breeders! Adopt your animals from a shelter or responsible rescue group. This problem takes the whole community. Please do your part.

No, when I talked to Mult Animal Control they 14.Nov.2003 17:05

uh uh

said that if an owner comes to retrieve the pet, that pet does not have to be spayed or neutered, and after all "it's not Mult Animal Control's animal" and so they "don't have the right" to make sure it's neutered (even though it's in their possession). I believe Humane Society is the same. It is not true that every animal leaving there is spayed or neutered. I'm not sure that the non-owner ones are either. So, I know that is not correct info above about all being spayed or neutered.

feral cat coalition 14.Nov.2003 17:51


For situations involving feral, or untamed, unowned cats, The Feral Cat Coalition of Portland is invaluable. This volunteer-based group of local vets and caring idividuals has monthly 'clinics' in various locations around the state. They have the resources and information that enable one to humanely trap a feral cat (or cats), and have it tested and then vaccinated for FLV, rabies, and kitty AIDS, and have it spayed or neutered, ( and in sad cases, euthanised). For FREE.
The price of FREE, in this case, means that the person who dedicates their time to trap and take the cat(s) to the clinic agrees to pick the cat(s) up, and deliver them back to their environment, and continue to provide for the cat(s) as before.

The Feral Cat Coalition of Portland
P.O Box 82734 [or is it 827344?]
Ptld., OR 97282-0734



Granted, this can't solve the problem of irresponsible owners and breeders; yet, it helps. And it is info that, when passed along, does and will make a difference. I know, I've done it 3x.

Where in Mt Tabor? 14.Nov.2003 18:14


Im curious as I live in South Tabor and my cat turned up missing recently. Im wondering if there is any connection.

BTW if anyone has found a medium sized black cat in south tabor with white markings please email me at starkmojo at yahoo.com. Thanks.

Keep Looking 14.Nov.2003 19:20


Duncan,to the best of my knowledge McCabe lives around SE Morrison.If you are missing an animal check out the lost and found on Dove Lewis' web page.Also check out Multnomah County Animal Control's web site and don't forget to put up posters in the area where you live.Good luck.

Spay/neuter!!! 14.Nov.2003 20:03


To Kitty Avenger--

MCAS requires that animals be spayed neutered if you are ADOPTING them. Not retrieving them. SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR ANIMAL!!! If yu don't have them money, you really shouldn't have a pet. Like it or not, owning an animal requires certain responsibilites and COSTS.

To all--
One of my cats once brought me a hummingbird, and I was crushed. She was so proud. She was soon hit by a car speeding down my very quiet street. The life of an outdoor cat is hard and short. Keep your cats indoors if you love them dearly. Hunting is an instinct that will not be bred out of housecats. They do incredible damage to bird populations. If the mice get out of control and move in, your hunting kitty can still help you inside! The new cat I got was a shelter foster kitten. I wish I'd adopted a full grown cat, now. They are much less likely to be adopted, and therefore much more likely to be euthanized.

Spay/ neuter and control your animals. Adopt pets from animal shelters (or from people who've adopted prgenant animals and had them fixed after the litter, like I once did..the same one who brought me the hummingbird) not backyard breeders. Mutts (dogs and cats) are generally healthier than some stupid inbred "purebred" anyways.


i dare any of you to apply what you are saying to humans 15.Nov.2003 07:40


it would sound really bad, wouldn't it?

Ill keep my cat indoors and leash my dog when 15.Nov.2003 07:42


They get rid of cars in Portland and Hydrodams on the River, when they ban the peticides and insecticides that people spread all over their lawns. My cats are small potatos to the big killers- that would be us.

To Uh Uh 17.Nov.2003 14:59

Kitty Avenger

<quote>...if an owner comes to retrieve the pet, that pet does not have to be spayed or neutered, and after all "it's not Mult Animal Control's animal" and so they "don't have the right" to make sure it's neutered (even though it's in their possession).</quote>

Sorry, I guess I didn't read carefully enough what you were saying, you're right. I was referring to animals being adopted from there. Whoops! :) And no, they don't have the legal right to s/n a pet that legally belongs to someone. By law it's that person's property, unfortunately.

<quote> I believe Humane Society is the same. It is not true that every animal leaving there is spayed or neutered. I'm not sure that the non-owner ones are either. So, I know that is not correct info above about all being spayed or neutered.</quote>

As for animals being adopted, yes - all animals are s/n before leaving OHS, unless a medical condition prevents it. For MCAS pets are s/n unless an owner specifically requests their own vet perform the procedure.

To Juan - not sure what you're getting at?? 17.Nov.2003 15:01

Kitty Avenger

If you're talking about humans getting s/n'd. Yes, I sure would! :) If that's not what you're asking, then ?????

More birds killed by hitting windows 18.Nov.2003 11:21


Quote from a Nebraska Audubon Chapter's newsletter:
"Tom Labedz at the University of Nebraska, who has been documenting birds being killed by crashing into windows, and reports statistics on this and other causes of bird mortality. His paper, "Windows of Death: A Look at Bird Strikes," published in Museum Notes, February 1997, Number 95 is available for $1 by writing Museum Notes, W436 Nebraska Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0514. His estimate for birds killed by cats is lower than that of Coleman, Temple, and Craven, but he also gives some other interesting estimates:

~1.3 Television towers
~3.8 Oil, pesticides, other chemicals
(Exxon Valdez oil spill ~300,000)
~57.2 Roadway collisions
~80.0 Cats (minimum estimate)
~120.0 Sport hunting (variable)
~100.0 Windows (minimum estimate)
total: approximately 1 million birds per day "

And it is generally agreed that destruction of bird/wildlife habitat by humans is the worst cause of bird/wildlifedeaths.

Two web sites that may be of interest:
 http://www.flap.org/new/nestegg2.htm (is an organization devoted to educating the public about windows and birds)
 http://www.catgoods.com (a company that sells a device that stops cats from catching birds)


To UH UH 21.Nov.2003 13:47

PortlandVegan PortlandVegan@hotmail.com

I didn't read everything here as I'm in school and haven't the time. But I have been volunteering with the Oregon Humane Society for five years now. I can tell you as fact that every animal in that facility leaves spayed/neutered. They will NOT allow any animal to be adopted out of the facility without being spayed/neutered...no questions asked. People will ask for an animal that isn't fixed, but we turn them down every time. The OHS is a HUGE promoter of spaying and neutering.... at all of their summer camps for kids they spend a couple days educating about why it's important to spay and neuter...and they have many classes about it that people can take.

how about if someone picks up their OWN pet who 22.Nov.2003 13:38


has been turned in to the HS? I think they do not have to be spayed/neutered before they leave--for the same reason animal control won't do it: because the pet belongs to someone--but can you clarify this for sure? Thanks.

Facts ..... 22.Nov.2003 16:51

Open Eyed

The Humane Society does NOT take in "found" animals only owner "released."If someone drops off a stray it is transported to Multnomah County Animal Control.By the way I HAVE adopted puppies from OHS that were not S/N and had it done at a later date.When did this "no fertitle animal leaves through our doors"policy become a law?Both OHS and MCAC need to be revised.OHS DOES kill healthy/adoptable animals IF they are overcrowded.No shelter is without its flaws.

Shame on OHS 23.Nov.2003 18:43


What is going on at the humane society? I went in there yesterday looking to adopt a dog and could not believe what they were charging. A few dogs were being sold,and they were being sold not adopted, for up to $400.00 I thought I had accidently walked into a pet store not a shelter. I am outraged that they put different prices on different dogs depending on the breed,age and size. Money can't buy love but OHS sure is trying to sell it. What a turn off. I will never go in there again.

Hey, HS does A LOT of good work--please don't turn 25.Nov.2003 11:07


your back on them, but instead help them to be better.

Sorry no support from me 26.Nov.2003 20:24

ex volunteer

On the contrary, I feel that OHS has turned their backs on the animals, the community and the animal rights people. With OHS it is ALL about image and numbers. They don't want helpful input they only want the public's money.Harmon is the worst offender of them all.

Regarding OHS 03.Dec.2003 13:53


OHS bases all of their prices on how long a dog has been there. The longer an animal has been there, the lower the price is. They WILL charge a little extra for a purebred...because people will pay it. SELDOM are puppies put up for 400 dollars...I've nevern encountered that in the five years I've been with the OHS volunteering. Very surprising.
The not s/n contract is an old old policy. About two or three years ago they changed it so that NO animal EVER leaves the facility unfixed...OHS is HUGE on that p[olicy.

OHS has a very large area in the back with extra kennels where animals waiting to be put out in the public go. I'll post more when I get home from school...class is out.

Regarding OHS 04.Dec.2003 13:49

PortlandVegan PortlandVegan@yahoo.com

If it is your own pet you're going to the HS to pick up....because it is legally your pet, the OHS cannot have it spayed/neutered.
Animals up for adoption ALWAYS 100% of the time leave that facility fixed. I'm always being asked by potential adopters if they can adopt an animal unfixed....and I always tell them no, as does everyone else. The OHS is SO strict on this policy....they have countless summer(and year round) programs enforcing spay and neutering.  http://www.oregonhumane.org/faq.htm#9 Like I've said, I've been with the OHS for five years...I can testify that this is absolutely true....the OHS exists *for* the animals, not *because* of the animals...

This is true that the OHS will only accept owner-released pets...strays are redirected to MC. The OHS also will frequently get animals from various shelters from all around the area...even up into Washington.

As I said, when kennels are full (9/10 times there's one or two kennels open though), there are roughly 20 or so kennels in the back where animals wait to be put in the front(these animals get the same three-times a day walk as the ones in public view). OHS also has hundreds of foster families.

Price is not dependent on breed. Price is dependent upon the adoptability of an animal...this is to assure that they can find new homes for as many animals as possible. An older cat is going to be much cheaper than a young cat...because not many people want to pay $85 for a cat that is only going to be around a few years...so older cats will usually go for $35. People will pay $200 for a kitten...if OHS can make the money, they'll make it. I hope you can understand that....OHS can't just give all the animals away for that cheap.... All animals are chipped(If I recall correctly), vaccinated, and spayed/neutered. It's a great deal.

Unfortunately, OHS must euthanize some adoptable animals.... "Pets stay up for adoption as long as they remain physically and emotionally healthy. For some dogs this can mean living at shelter for six months or more until the right home is available. The length of stay for cats varies according to the demand for space. During the winter the number of cats received at the shelter is about 400 a month and so it is possible for a cat to remain up for adoption for several months. However, June to October is kitten season and the shelter may receive 1,600 cats per month and during this period some cats will only get a brief stay in the adoption kennels before it is time to give another cat a chance for adoption." It's all a matter of space. Cats come in at an overwhelming rate.. sometimes if a cat just clearly isn't being adopted... they need to give another cat a chance. It's all about getting as many animals new homes as possible. Dogs on the other hand... SELDOM do they get euthanized...virtually every dog in the facility gets adopted...

Remove Your Rose Colored Glasses 06.Dec.2003 09:33

Not Fooled

I hope you will add your comments to this site again after you remove your rose colored glasses and see OHS for what it really is,a for profit business,not unlike Scamps Pet Centers.Only difference is OHS does not have to buy the animals that are in the shelter,they are brought in and given to them by their owners.I too have been told by the workers at the shelter that the price of a dog can be as high as $425.00.It has NOTHING to do with how long the dog has ben there,it is based soley on what the market will bear.You,unfortunately,have really bought into the propaganda that OHS puts out to the public in hopes of getting big contributions.I think it is time that someone calls for an in depth audit of OHS as well as Multnomah County Animal Control.

Regarding OHS 12.Dec.2003 13:22


Of course the OHS is adopting out their animals for money...they can't just give them away for free....that would be simply absurd. And yes, every once in a while, a puppy will go for that much money...I believe I've seen a few go for $400 in the past. That's really quite rare. Puppies typically go anywhere between 150 and 375. Anything beyond that is very seldom. Puppies are quite high in demand....thus they can be sold for more. Moreover, NEVER have I seen an adult dog for more than 150(even then, an adult going for 150 is usually a fairly rare purebred, and quite young). The price DOES infact go down the longer an animal has been there....occasionally we'll have a two for one for $35. If somebody actually told you that the price has nothing to do with how long they've been there... they're quite misinformed....possibly a new worker(over the summer OHS hired a number of people). OHS definitely wants big contributions.. the OHS currently wants to put in some sort of 8million dollar facility beside the main shelter..as I recall, they want some sort of building where they can train vet techs I think? It's been a while since I heard about it.

I've been with the facility for nearly five years--I base everything on what I see, and experience. No rose colored glasses here :)

Anyway, where I was getting is that the OHS does in fact profit. Do keep in mind that there are, oh gosh...something like eighty employees there currently? I can double check though sometime for you if you wish.

tight wade. 19.Sep.2006 20:57

why does the aspca not neuter or spay animals anymore?

I am running out of time to find a place that does not charge an arm and a leg for a neuter service for my two male cats. I called the aspca for a good deal only to be told they do not offer that service. Why would Bob Barker want you to purchase stamps the say spay and neuter your pets if they do not seem to help people spay and neuter pets? If anyone in the portland area knows of a place to have this proceeder done I would appreciate the help. Thanks!!!!

signed: Tight Wade