A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany resident proposes a city cat law

Written February 12th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Listening to Sheri Wheeler’s cat poposal from left are Councilors Kellum, Johnson II and Sykes, Deputy  City Manager Salinas, and Mayor Konopa.

Sheri Wheeler says Albany has too many cats roaming outdoors and creating a health hazard by leaving their messes in people’s yards. She wants the city to pass a law requiring cats to be licensed and kept indoors.

Wheeler, who moved to the neighborhood near 25th and Jackson a year ago from Scio, made her pitch to the city council Wednesday. She came prepared with a three-page presentation and a suggested text of Albany’s dog ordinance adapted to cats.

She had close-up photos of cat droppings in her yard that she displayed on the council chamber’s overhead digital screens — probably a first.  Also, the council got to see photos of her own, indoor cat.

Based on Albany’s size, she estimated the number of household cats at about 5,600. Her proposal calls for owners to be required to license their cats for an annual fee. Outdoors, cats would have to be leashed and allowed only on their owners’ property. Cats found running at large would be picked up and their owners fined.

Feral cats would be evaluated for adoption or “disposed of.”

Mayor Sharon Konopa said the issue would be handed to the city staff. She might have mentioned — but didn’t — that the council wrestled with the question of cats, especially feral cats, for a good long time around 2003. But in the end the council gave up trying to do anything drastic, such as regulating cats the same as dogs. (hh)

Sheri Wheeler’s indoor cat on the council chamber’s display system.

54 responses to “Albany resident proposes a city cat law”

  1. Jacki t says:

    Wow that would be great to have a city over run by rats and mice . I do agree with that there are to many cats in albany but only due to irresponsible pets owners and unwilling to fix their cats mostly because they can’t afford it in whitch case they shouldn’t really have a pet . I too have indoor only cats but what about the 2 outside cats I take care of because someone dumped them. I had them fixed and shots and they keep the rodents under control in our neighborhood. I try to clean up after them and my neighbors know if there is any issues I am willing to deal with it . The issue is not the cats it’s the fact that people don’t act responsible they should all be fixed and maybe even licensed but as far as just them to just be gotten rid of if they can’t be adopted well then I guess I feel like that’s just wrong . I try to be a responsible pet owner and I wish others would be too but the problem is not the cats it’s the owners refusing to fix them and be responsible for them . So why make the cats suffer when they have all ready suffered enough by getting abused or used for horrible things like dog fighting and dumped when people get a new baby or move . Trap them fix them give them shots if they are feral they have a place in the community. Yes keep kitty’s indoors if you can but don’t blame them for wanting to go potty in a comfy fresh tilled garden if a problem just get a kiddie pool fill with sand they would much rather go there . Unless you would rather have a terrible rat and mouse problem that can cause way more damage and much more difficult to control. So I say make a law against owning any animal you can’t really afford to give a great home to because it’s people who have caused the problem not the animals.

    • Sheri says:

      I appreciate your comments And understand your take. However why would I want to create an environment like the swimming pool filled with sand for neighborhood cats to come use as a bathroom and then I would have to clean it up? You are correct they seek out soft dirt. Loose cats leave feces in peoples vegetable gardens. Could you imagine putting your hands in the dirt in your garden to harvest your veggies and coming in contact with Kathy sees? That is the health issue. I know it’s controversial but something needs to be done. The world is changing and so must change the way cats are allowed to roam free

    • JJ McKibbin says:

      Cats don’t really control rats. Every city that has a rat problem also has a terrible feral cat problem. Rats often eat the cat food left out for feral cats. The key to controlling rodents is sanitation, not free-roaming cats.


      She’s not suggesting the cats should be made to suffer. Humane euthanasia is just that: Humane.

    • larry says:

      Vancouver, WA. has a cat licensing program. It is worth a look.

    • larry says:

      Got a fixer upper house 30 years ago. It was over run with cats and rats. An unfed cat will take rats. But most of the do gooders feed cats, raccoons, squirrels. Putting up kestrel boxes will attract Screech Owls. They eat plenty of mice and rats.

  2. b says:

    This might sound crazy at first, but my dog is currently sick because of droppings from neighborhood cats that are using our yard as a litter box. If you have an animal, you should probably take care of it.

    • Lol says:

      If you have a dog you should probably take care of it, including monitoring them outside and stopping them from eating toxic substances.

    • Sara B says:

      And do you have proof from a veterinarian that your dog is sick from cat droppings?

    • Jasper says:

      Animals can very rarely get sick by stepping into or smelling other animal’s droppings. It sounds like your dog ate the droppings of the cat. If that is the case,which I am certain is, why didn’t you take better care of your animal by supervising them while they used the restroom or clean your backyard of droppings before letting them out?

      • Your neighbor says:

        Are you people seriously suggesting that cleaning up YOUR TRESPASSING PET’s excrement is something your neighbor is responsible for?
        Reality check: My yard is the LEGAL PROPERTY of my family and my dog.
        It is NOT your pet’s toilet.

        You open your door telling fluffy to go have fun without thinking twice about your fluffy getting killed by a car. YET you will blame the driver that your kills your poor baby because they didn’t swerve into a parked car so your cat not die.

        You people are the definition of ‘irresponsible pet owner’
        What a joke.

        • Jasper says:

          So when people walk their dogs and don’t pick up their dog’s droppings, does that mean we should provide a harsh licensing with a yearly fee to own that dog? No, people still have to clean THEIR front yard of other people’s dog dropping because the owner didn’t feel like carrying a small plastic bag. Droppings are everywhere, and from different animals. There is absolutely no way to prevent droppings on yards without keeping Albany 100% animal free, including all rodents, birds, and other feral animals. Wanting to have an outlandish licensing over something that happens with all animals is just crazy. Not to mention that the lady suggested killing cats that were feral sounds like she deserves to have a nice chat with Safe Haven or PETA.

  3. b says:

    I don’t think you should have to have cats on a leash, and you can’t keep them only on the owner’s property, but cat owners need to know that their cats need to be regularly checked and kept healthy if they’re roaming neighborhoods.

  4. S says:

    I agree with regulating cats as we do dogs. I’m tired of my irresponsible neighbors turning their cats loose in the neighborhood to do their business in everyone else’s yard or to wander out into the street and get hit by a car. That is not being a responsible pet owner. If I wanted a cat I would get one and it would stay in the house. I don’t need yours visiting my yard!

  5. Monica Weber says:

    Boy, I understand the frustration. I hate dog bombs in my yard. Some cat is being very rude to this lady. There are cat repellents out there. We resolved some of our cat issues by keeping him indoors while birds are at our feeders, mostly all day. He’s fine with this arrangement because cats are nocturnal. We let him out all night because he catches rats. We live within 100 yards of 5 restaurants. The exterminator said that is why there are so many rats in my neighborhood. We battled them constantly until Fluff came along. I do not recommend keeping all cats indoors while we have this problem. Rats are smart. They are almost impossible to kill.

  6. Rdjourney says:

    My service dog died from “recycling “ feral cat poop.. Vet verified that it was the diseased cats that resulted in her death. Albany has a HUGE issue with irresponsible cat owners or cat dumpers. We have one of those feral cats offspring she was so sick as a kitten the vet gave her a year if we were lucky based on her environment she was born into. Several vet bills, love, and KEEPING her indoors she is 3.

  7. Owner of dog that barks at your cat on my lawn says:

    I dont have cats but my neighborhood has quite a few.
    The dog fines if your dog gets out are horrendous.. $1000 really. And you want to ompose that kind of fine to cats.. That have been outdoors their whole life? Really!?! How about we get rid of the dog law and have a real …old lady who swallowed the fly Scenario ..kidding but seriously, catch ferrels and fix and release them. They have a job to do. Maybe Impose a fee for cats caught that are not fixed? I dunno?
    Oh and get rid of the dog fees. Dogs get out. Why penalize a family for their really fast dog?

  8. fed up says:

    I am tired of my kids coming back in the house with cat crap smeared on them because they hit some while playing in the yard. I was planning on talking with the police this week. They are charged with enforcing the stray laws, which include cats out of their yards and out of their owner’s control. I want them to enforce the current law, or get them on record as saying they won’t and allow me to take care of the situation in my own yard.

  9. Sheri says:

    Cat feces contain a parasite that generates an illness called toxoplasmosis. Humans with lowered immunity can become very sick and death is not unheard of. Interestingly infants can be born with the illness from infected mothers even though the mothers don’t seem sick I’m not sure if dogs can contract the same disease. I am sorry that your dog is sick

  10. Sheri says:

    I am grateful that these conversations has started. It will take all of us working collectively as a community to solve this problem. Simply spay and neutering feral cats and returning loose to the environment is not a solution to the specific problem I am addressing. The specific problem I am addressing is a loose cat who roams into someone else’s private property and deposits their feces in their vegetable garden, flower bed, other soft fill areas. Then the Property owner is tasked with cleaning up this mess and it’s not even from their own cat.

    • Kristen says:

      Next, we could license trees and fine people if their leaves fall on your yard. Wonderful ideas if you want more ineffective bureaucracy for taxpayers to fund. Alternatively, learn to live in common areas realizing that things will not be exactly “fair” all the time.

      • TF says:

        That is so funny- but some people would love to do just that! My previous neighbor used to get so ticked off because my dogwood tree lost leaves on his driveway. Good thing I didn’t have a big maple!

  11. Roger That says:

    Anyone ever heard the term “like trying to herd cats”?… cats want to be outdoors. They aren’t particularly amendable to being trained to do much (as opposed to dogs), especially to stay indoors. If I came home with an arm full of groceries, came through the door and my cat escaped, and was then found and put to sleep because he broke the law and went outside, I’d be pissed. With all the things to stress about these days so we really need to add this to the list? Besides the fact that we are “fee’d” and taxed for everything besides breathing these days, do we need to add another category for the pleasure of owning a cat?

    • Harley says:

      Oh my lord Roger!
      Not ALL cats want to be outdoor. I have previously owned three cats and ALL THREE cats were indoor cats ONLY, not outdoor. It’s up to the owner and how they train the cat, which cats CAN BE trained, again it’s all up to the owner and how much effort they want to put into owning a pet. If I came home with an arm full of groceries and my dog ran out the door (but he shouldn’t if he is trained) I would post a ‘lost dog’ to find it and also notify the Linn county animal control. I am sure I would find my dog and it would not be put to sleep. You could do the same thing if your cat ran out the front door. If you did not care about your cat and it ended up and Linn Co shelter for a period of time then you should not be a pet owner. Those of us that own a dog DO HAVE TO PAY FOR A LICENSE and DO HAVE TO ABIDE BY THE LEASH LAW. Cats should be the same. Why should I have to pay for a license to own my dog yet you do not to own a cat in Linn county? Maybe they should just eliminate the dog license fee to make it fair. It is a pleasure owning my dog also. I hope Linn county does something because I am also tired of our neighbors cats pooping in our flower beds. I don’t allow my dog to go poop in their flower beds. It’s called respect!

  12. kylliesmama@gmail.com says:

    Good greif move then

  13. Jim Engel says:

    Don’t tell Ms Wheeler that the multitude of birds that inhabit Albany also poop in the open. On her lawn, probably her car, etc…

    • Charlotte Dougherty says:

      Between the birds, cats and dogs the city of Albany is in deep shit. And I am not talking about politicians.

  14. Tami says:

    I do agree. They crap everywhere.

  15. Jon says:

    So, uh, do the cats get an off-leash park, too?

  16. Don says:

    I could use three or four cats if someone has some that need a home.

  17. Judy Simmons says:

    WOW, really what is this city coming to. I don’t have cats but how is a owner supposed to keep their cat from roaming around? Feral cats being adopted or disposed of? Really?
    Maybe people having outdoor cats should try having a covered cat box on outdoor patio. Cars aren’t dogs. Cats are what keeps the mice and rats population down. Maybe cat owners need to take the responsibility of fixing their cats to keep population down. Restricting cats to their own property is foolish.

    • Grace Peterson says:

      I have four indoor-only cats. They never go outside. EVER. Call me foolish but it works.

  18. C says:

    Outdoor cats also have devastating effects on song bird populations

    • Barbara says:

      That’s nature ! I don’t like seeing a bird killed either, but that’s nature ! I have a cat which is an indoor cat who periodically goes out when someone doesn’t close the door fast enough on a sunny day. But except for the feral cat situation, why aren’t neighborhoods trying to control it among themselves. We need to remove government from our daily lives as much as possible.

    • Toni says:

      This argument is old and disproven. The decline of bird populations is the result of humans and the pesticides (toxins) we use, and destruction of habitat and food sources – also proven.

  19. Dennis Clark says:

    I have a feral cat. She has been fixed but will not come in the house anymore. She just showed up one day barely big enough to eat dry cat food out of the other cats dish. She seldom leaves my yard and i deal with her messes. Why should i have to pay you for her? What has she done to you. Maybe you too are offensive to your neighbors…in this case you are to me. She is the only cat i have left and we have a personal bond. You would euthanize that?

  20. Vicki F says:

    Both the people who care for the feral cats and the people who don’t want them running free are both trying to achieve the same goal, less cats outdoors. The people engaged in TNR (trap, neuter, return or rehome) are working tirelessly to control over population of cats. More and more people are taking up the ranks as well so we are making bigger steps towards that end. Some of the wiser things to do instead of killing cats because they may not be used to human touch and certainly not a humane shelter situation where they will be determined by their actions to be unadoptable or not. We are currently teaching high quality high volume pediatric spays and neuters to veterinary students about to graduate in as many vet schools as we can get a program started. We develop low cost tnr clinics where even low income folks can get the operation done at a price they can afford instead of placing a barrier to that with high prices out of reach for most pet owners. By assigning caretakers to a colony of cats they can monitor if any newcomers arrive and trap them for spay/neuter– so the cycle does not start up again. These cats are then able to live decent lives having shelter, food, water, and vet care when needed. Even in your own state of Oregon the Audubon Society and the Community Cat Coalition of OR work together and have made a concentrated effort to see how that can look and what they can do together based on their combined goal of more indoor, less outdoor cats. I would hope that the counselors and the Mayor would reach out to their highly regarded TNR program the CCC of OR to learn the alternatives to what this woman (one woman should not be speaking as if there is only one side of this issue) has tried to lay out to them. Cats do not decimate songbirds, read the latest research to learn the truth of that. Habitat destruction, and fertilizers are the biggest culprits in the latest research. I agree with Barbara, instead of people being part of the PROBLEM, either get out of the way or join in where you can be effective at improving the situation in a more humane way. More people that don’t like cats complain loudly versus how many people LOVE cats, just look around the internet for proof of that. I hope the counselors will reach out to others to get educated on the issue of non compliance with getting cats fixed. That is why across our land the shelters now (if they are good shelters) spay and neuter every animal that is being adopted prior to adoption. Rescuers do the same. Pet stores don’t allow puppy mills and breeders to use them any longer and instead only adopt out rescue cats and dogs. Free TNR classes are being offered across the nation as well, to teach people where the resources are and how to help the cats in their own backyards. But people DO NEED to learn that just feeding a group of cats is in everyones’ worst interest, especially the cats. All you are doing is boosting up their reproduction capabilities and producing bigger numbers in litters of healthier kittens that will be born and live to continue the cycle and the cats you feed will have litters more often, If you feed, Spay and Neuter is a must! I wish nothing but the best for your cat overpopulation problem in Albany. I hope it can be worked out in a way that helps everyone.

  21. centrist says:

    Two premises are buried in the original point
    First, that all cats have and transmit toxoplasmosis.
    Second, no dog can pass a parasite on to a human.
    These premises do not pass scrutiny.
    Much of the argument fails.

    • Jody Harmon says:

      Thanks Centrist, for inserting some sanity. Under the premise of poop, to control all disease, we’d need to rid the town of all birds and birds just flying over who also poop in yards and on cars. And all wildlife without the civility to use indoor human style plumbing also I suppose.

  22. Peg Richner says:

    Never ask for more regulations; you will get them, good and hard. No cat lover wants cats to be regulated. On the other hand, owners have a right to protect their property from wanton destruction by roving animals (or humans). I also have the right to think them despicable if they harm a cat.

  23. Cap says:

    Vicki F. Thank you for your post. I read every word of it and I support you and your efforts. I love cats. I love birds, too. I support financially, when I can, The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.

  24. Lacey Gosnell says:

    This would be nice as I see so many cats every where and feces to go with it. Most I see have a collar but roam freely and we don’t know who they belong to because there are no tags and frankly we shouldn’t have to clean up after someone’s pet. Other than owned cats this town seems to be almost over run by them. It’s getting worse. When you move and no matter where you go it’s the middle of the night and yowling wakes you or your children, its ridiculous.

  25. Leslie Farley says:

    In Colorado, my father had three cats. They we’re all strays from the neighbourhood.
    His HOA stated that he could only have three. He took them to small claims ourt.
    With stuff from the local (DU) law library. As a result it was ruled in his favor. You can’t control cats. No body really owns a cat.

  26. Dick Olsen says:

    Thank you Vicki F! You said everything I wanted to say and then some. I have three cats, two female. They hate each other, but love me. It’s nice to get some love even if it’s furry.

  27. Melissa says:

    I’m curious if this lady has tried any cat deterrents such as cayenne pepper or motion activated sprinklers?

  28. Page Williams says:

    I am an old lady who has had about 40 cats in my life. Never had one live past 11 until I began to keep them indoors. Now they live to 18. My present cat wouldn’t go outside because she knows there are cats and dogs out there. Cats may kill native mice, but rarely will tackle a rat – in fact, rats infected with toxoplasmosis will chase cats. Get a terrier if you want the rats killed. Cats maim/torture/kill native reptiles and birds. They are an introduced predator, multiplying rapidly due to artificial feeding (often funded by – you guessed it – the folks who profit by selling cat food.) Cats carry a host of diseases and parasites, responsible for killing zoo animals, marine mammals, and humans. The toxoplasmosis oocysts are now being found in our wild game. There is no logical reason that cats should be allowed to run free anymore than we should allow ferrets to roam. Stop rationalizing bad science!

  29. Jody Harmon says:

    Cats and dogs are not the same, do not behave the same, do not have the same needs. Its ridiculous when people compare cats and dogs. Toxoplasmosis misinformation is widespread, unlike the actual disease, which is not common and cats even if infected rarely shed toxo in feces. If you get get it, it will be from eating undercooked meat. I’m no fan of irresponsible dog or cat owners. Mine are contained. But I love cats and every now and then someone comes to live in town who wants to kill them all, like kill the victims of bad human behavior. And Alex Johnson, I don’t say that I love cats because I’m some lonely sad person, as you imply that those folks who feed strays must be. I don’t believe in killing strays bred by irresponsible humans, or left like trash. I believe in getting them fixed and helping them out, as a solution. I have worked to spay neuter thousands upon thousands of Linn County cats in the last 15 years and I still do that, or will, after I get my burned out clutch fixed. I understand it would be more useful to be spaying and neutering people…

  30. Steve Reynolds says:

    Just an FYI,

    We called several years ago when we had cat issues at our property, many are service/emotional animals not being fixed and then abandoned after they have had kittens or the person leaves (we’ve had dogs abandoned with puppies also). A common occurrence, many turned feral, more unintended consequences. We called the city and county, both said there wasn’t anything they could do about it, as cats are treated different than dogs, there is no cat shelter. Cats are treated as personal property, feral cats are considered invasive and damage the native species. We called ODFW and they suggested we handle them as you would handle any other wildlife that is doing damage, trap and humanely euthanize. Not the answer we wanted but more unintended consequence from policy that does not hold individuals responsible for their actions, a common theme we seem to be seeing throughout today.We did find homes for some, a nice lady came out from Newport I believe and trapped and took the other feral ones away. I hear she’s not doing it anymore because she had too many cats and her community pushed back against her. I.E. she got in trouble.

  31. Beata says:

    I heartily sympathize though I live in Eugene. Video tape offending cats and take owners to small claims for preventing your ability to plant a garden and enjoy your property for fear of more digging and poop.

    And, cats EAT wild birds as well as butterflies, lizards, newts and other small animals. Seems natural but the cats have an unfair advantage. Outdoor cats make a big dent in bird populations.

    • R says:

      I don’t. We lived in a place where People moved in next-door and hated our cat I couldn’t prevent the cats from walking on their yard so legally they were able to trap them but they had to take them to the Humane Society. Since my cats are chipped I was notified and went to pick them up this cycle happened several times where the neighbor trapped her cats wrapped in a manger siding and picked up again these cats were not indoor cats only they had always been indoor outdoor it would take quite a bit of time to try to transition that but they were being trapped the whole time the third time they went missing. There was no call and they never came back makes you wonder did they finally illegally dumped them somewhere that I could never prove of course but I grieved over my cats for years and still think of them and how awful people can be to try and take their neighbors cats or any pets away from them just let them be or collaborate I told our neighbors they could spray or cats can you do that enough times they will eventually stay off your property they would rather trap them and take them away.

      • A Neighbor says:

        The bottom line is, if your cats were kept indoors, you would still have them.
        EVERY TIME a cat owner opens their door for their defenseless pet to have free range in a dangerous world, they naively assume their pet will be untouched be the dangers in the world. That’s a lost expectation.
        The danger of cars, predatory birds, coyotes (we hear them at night in our neighborhood), fed up neighbors and bigger cats is real.

  32. R says:

    Spray and neuter the cats then leave them alone. Don’t f@ck with cats .

    Try to control cats to inside only? You need to find a place to live where that is an ordinance to accommodate your needs not move to a place and then force your ideas and needs on others.

    I moved to a place where the flowers attract too many bees and I don’t like them I’m allergic to bees. Everyone around me should not be allowed to now grow those flowers. Accommodate me, me, me!

  33. Beata says:

    abcbirds.org provides statistics on cats eating birds.
    Search on the site for, “Outdoor cats: single greatest ….”

    Admittedly, this is a bird website but 1.4 – 4 BILLION birds and 6.2-22.3 BILLION individual mammals killed by domestic cats is jarring.


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