A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

An Albany cat law? Councilor follows up

Written February 24th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Councilman Alex Johnson II, shown after Monday’s council meeting, is pursuing the issue of cat regulation.

Two weeks ago, an Albany resident asked the city council to consider passing a law on cats. Councilman Alex Johnson II, for one, is not forgetting about the request but instead is following up.

The proposal came from Sheri Wheeler, who moved to Johnson’s Ward 2 from Scio about a year ago and who originally contacted her councilman. It was Johnson who encouraged her to come before the council and express her concerns, which she did on Feb. 12.

She proposed a city law to require cats to be licensed the same as dogs, to be kept indoors, and not be allowed to roam. Her proposal generated a wave of social media reaction — pro and con — from people in Albany and elsewhere.

Johnson himself has been allergic to cats ever since his days in the Navy. He’s sympathetic to the idea of having a city requirement to license cats for an annual fee. He sees it as a way to hold owners responsible for what cats to do when they’re allowed outside.

In one case he knows of, a homeowner has solar panels on the roof, and somebody else’s kittens have moved in under the panels while grown cats have taken to lounging on top.

A big cause of the overall problem, he says, is that some people feed stray cats, thus attracting more and more, without worrying about the consequences.

Johnson told the council Monday he was organizing a public meeting to discuss what to do. It will be held at 6 p.m. March 18 at the main branch of the Albany Public Library. Anybody can attend.

Whether anything comes of this will depend, eventually, on whether any four of the six council members and mayor can agree on something to do about cats. (hh)

40 responses to “An Albany cat law? Councilor follows up”

  1. Marsha smith says:

    Horrible. Intolerant town. Glad I dont live in Albany. I wouldnt want to live next to those people.

  2. Debra Potter says:

    Wondering why you are wasting time and efforts on this?
    Who would you expect to do the licensing? Unless the sheriff dept. has the time for it, has a place to house them, has someone to go out and wrangle them, it’s plain stupid!!
    Many of us feed and care for stray cats. We have colonies of them that are spayed and neutered, have their shots, and are wormed.
    I have read many responses about this and what I see is not many support it!!
    Plus, if we keep our cats inside why should WE pay for the ones outside??
    Get Real!!!

    • My Real Name John Hartman says:

      Perhaps a mandatory lawn-watering system with motion sensor equipped
      Cat-Active-Thwart software (CAT) When a feline is detected, the automatic watering system – powered by Windows 10 – and pre-loaded with a strong dose of ammonia, is instantly deployed, rendering the odious cat helpless.

      The City could charge extra for the ammonia inspection, combining it with the back-flow test dollars.

      • Kathryn Terhune Cotton says:

        Amonia?? May you spray it on yourself, preferably in your eyes, you heartless, soulless, sicko.

    • Bonnie says:

      I agree ,why pay for outside cats if mine are inside. I really think it’s a waste of taxpayers money for this. I know of at least 10 people that find strays, fix them and find homes for them. I m sure you’ve tried in every way to keep them from your yard….

      • Dog owner says:

        Why do I need to pay for a license for my DOG that I keep inside (not roaming on others property) and need to have on a leash when out and about? Cats should be no different. I am a tax payer also. Maybe the county should do away with the license fee and rules DOG owners have to abide by.

        • Jasper says:

          Because, even though your dog is inside for most of the day, you have to take him out for walks and/or let them out in your backyard. Dogs are also more dangerous as their bite can infect people with diseases and germs that breakdown the human body. As for cats, yes they have a chance of having a parasite in their droppings, but you have to INGEST it for it to infect you. Please tell me how people’s dogs and other people have been killed by ingesting cat feces, while how many people go to hospitals and even have limbs removed from dogs. Tell me that they should be regulated in a similar fashion.

          Also, tamed cats mostly live their life, nearly 100% except for vet visits, inside a house, while dogs don’t. Cat litter exists for a reason.

          • Nita says:

            Jasper that is not true. Cats saliva can kill a bird with just a small bite. Not to mention a cat scratch and or bite can cause a huge infection called cat scratch fever. People have been hospitalized due to getting bit or scratched. I do not know how they are going to regulate this though, there are so many cats and how are they going to know who has a cat and who doesn’t. People don’t always take their cats to the vet either and they dump cats so often what about the strays and ferals?

    • Ginny Jordan says:

      *Wondering why you’re wasting time on this?”

      Many people do not follow local politics or take the newspaper so therefore, may get a “feel” for local news on the pages here on Facebook.

      Here’s the thing: It’s Hasso’s time to do with as he sees fit.

  3. Bb says:

    Herding cats. Personally I believe cat and dog owners should be REGULATED equally. I agree cat owners need to be more responsible for their pets .

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    Perhaps ARA ought to have a Pre-CARA Executive Session prior to funding the Kitty Elimination Project (KIP) Until and unless there is a funding mechanism for the elimination of kitties, the felines, and their feckless masters, will continue to reek havoc on our fair city. Pray for our Leaders to craft a wise decision.

  5. Angela Bowers says:

    Honestly, how on earth are we supposed to expect people to only have indoor felines or be able to ‘control’ any that are outdoors and/or feral. I’m sure the phrase ‘as easy as herding cats’, comes to mind for most anyone who reads this article. I’ll be there just to watch.

    • Dog owner says:

      I used to have 2 cats that were INSIDE cats. Cats are trainable, just like dogs. It’s all up to the owner.

  6. J. Jacobson says:

    In his last paragraph, Hering writes – presciently – “Whether anything comes of this will depend…on whether any four of the six council members and mayor can agree on something to do about cats.”

    Remember, this is the same Council Leadership which cannot agree on helping-out homeless human beings. Why the author thinks anything will be done about felines is anybody’s guess.

    This is the same Council that regularly kicks cans down various roads in order to avoid putting their power on the line. This is the same council that seems overly concerned about a religious-oriented charity who can’t make a $2700-dollar payment. This is a council that continually puts-off decision making on whether or not to award an abandoned church they overpaid for to a non-profit. This is the same council that continually props-up one or two square blocks of the urban core whilst streets throughout the rest of the city crumble. In short, don’t expect any sudden movement on the cat problem.

  7. M. Woods says:

    Not only is this a waste of resources that could go towards REAL issues it’s a joke. Cats help control rodent population. Should the city be wasting time and money and resources on managing cats? Or maybe would our elected officials be earning their wages appropriately by dealing with homeless issues, abandoned house issues, or even the dumping of trash on our streets. That woman needs to leave the cats alone and move back to Scio. Or get a hobby instead of being an old bitty stirring up trouble cause there’s nothing better to do.

    • Lundy says:

      Three things: First, I don’t know that you could accurately describe the elected officials’ stipends as “wages.” Second, name-calling is rarely useful. And while I fully support the idea of pet owners and others behaving responsibly, attempting to force that via cat licensure will likely be deemed unworkable — as it was many years ago when the issue was discussed and eventually dropped off the council’s radar.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        I dunno, governing cats (and their owners) seems to be accepted by Rhode Islanders.

        They have laws that require cat identification in addition to mandatory spaying and neutering. If you want your cat to have babies, a $100 breeding permit is required.

        All it takes is political will and an aggressive staff of animal control enforcers.

        Perhaps the Albany council will adopt the Rhode Island approach. The council can adapt the Rhode Island legal language to Albany’s needs.

        Oregonians seem to love authoritarianism at every level of government. A cat ordinance in Albany seems consistent with the desire to have government control virtually all aspects of life.

  8. Peg Richner says:

    Immediately after passing cat regulations, I trust the city council will investigate and outlaw all the wild birds who continue to do their business on my roof, my car, walkways, and lawn. How dare they?

    • Concerned Albany Resident says:

      How does a WILD bird or squirrel for that matter, even compare to a PET cat?! You might feel differently if you were the homeowner that was picking up 15-20 piles of cat poop (maggots and all I might add!) from your 7×12 front landscape area EVERY SINGLE WEEK, or washing foul-smelling cat spray from your front and garage doors constantly, or paying on your dime to replace fence boards on your newly installed fence because of witnessed claw and climbing damage by outdoor cats .. oh or better yet, chasing off and trapping rats seen eating at a full cat food dish set out regularly on a neighbor’s porch for ‘stray’ and PET cats left out all day and night!! It’s all disgusting – they are not my pets, and further are not my financial responsibility to deter because they cause damage and make it impossible to even come to my door without the stench of cat poop! If a DOG was doing the same things to your home or property, there would be legal consequences, so why is a PET CAT any different??! I have connected with my neighbors that own these cats, even call these neighbors friends, but nothing is being done unfortunately. So I have now started calling city enforcement on these escalating, persistent issues and they do respond, and are now potentially issuing citations – but this is not MY issue to tackle ultimately – and those officers/animal control needs to be funded. I am a cat lover, I’ve been a indoor cat owner in the past – this has nothing to do with my love of of animals. I might add, these PET cats are left out in weather m, all hours of the day, and to be attacked by other animals or other cats .. so sad having recently witnessed one of these so called “pet” cats being attacked by another cat and injured .. again if it was a dog, there would be repercussions! It is affecting livability in this community .. the general sentiment of just not caring unless it’s knocking at your own front door just doesn’t fly when trying to renew or grow a healthy, happy community – and that includes Albany. Nor should any other important political issues take away from the need to find solutions to them all eventually… just sayin’!

  9. Ken Donaldson says:

    One person has a cat problem, and she want’s to punish every cat owner in Albany for her problem! Why doesn’t she trap the culprit and take it to the shelter? More government is the last thing we need these days.

    • Patricia Kight says:

      Mandatory spay and neuter would help a LOT. And all cats, as well as dogs, should be microchipped so that if they stray outside their yards, their owners can be found.

    • Concerned Albany Resident says:

      Understandably, the shelter won’t accept PET cats .. they refer you back to the owner.

  10. Peculiar says:

    I don’t know how effective licensing would be and it seems possibly overly complicated and would likely lead to more dumping of cats. But I am glad to see more attention brought to the issue. I hate having neighborhood cats tear up seedlings in my garden, and crap in the bark mulch. I shouldn’t have to spend so much money on different cat deterrents.

  11. Mike Patrick says:

    This is better than watching Netflix!

  12. centrist says:

    Seems like a control issue with a dash of wild imagination. Makes for lively coffeehouse or pub discussion, but not worthy of government conversation.

  13. Delfina Hoxie says:

    We lost a beautiful cat two years ago. He was a rescue and was accustomed to going in and out. We did not stop him and he was lost. Now we have two kitties and my husband built a catio on our back patio. Both are fixed and chipped. I wish everyone could do the same but the catio was expensive to build and lots of people do not have the money and their kitty brings them happiness. I think people that want others to change because of their intolerance are petty and selfish. If you see a cat on your property spray it with the hose. They won’t like it and will stop coming to your yard. You can’t keep every living soul indoors. What can I do about the boys that broke my Christmas ornaments? Should they be tattooed and kept inside? Ridiculous, yes, and so is this proposed law. Grow up!

  14. CJ Miller says:

    Sounds like a publicity stunt otherwise one of the dumbest things I’ve heard. The most ridiculous waste of time. I keep my cat indoors but animals have always lived outside. Solve your own cat poop problems instead of wasting taxpayer dollars. At least cats bury it, maybe you should have a task force to police all pooping animals.

  15. MsJ says:

    Agree with many of the commenters here.

    If I have animal problems affecting my property, I WILL take care of it myself if the owners are irresponsible and don’t. Same thing with ownerless animals.

    Don’t need another licensing fee/enforcement program which will be largely ineffective concerning cats.

  16. John Klock says:

    Cats are the biggest killer of birds in your backyard. Meadowlarks, nuthatches, chickadees, you name it. Research bears this out time and time again. While most people think their cat, outside by day, inside at night, is harmless, they are wrong. I do not want to argue the reasoning behind bringing this issue to the city council, but ecologically, cats are a nightmare.

    • Thanh N says:

      I wish this comment was recognized more because when I read that Albany was considering this step in ensuring cats be accounted for, this was the first thing I thought about.

      https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/ is a great place to learn more about how cats are doing a number on native bird species, and I wish that cat owners were more aware of this situation. This site also gives people ideas on how to ensure that cats can live outdoors without affecting the wildlife.

      I would like to have the equality between cats and dogs being both licensed because it gives owners a way to be more accountable of their pets. I don’t think that people’s arguments that dogs tend to be more vicious than cats is a good enough reason for me for only dogs being licensed. I’ve seen some pretty mean cats, and I have seen the sweetest dogs too, and both roles could be flip-flopped depending on owners and animal personalities.

  17. CHEZZ says:


  18. Jody Harmon says:

    Mr. Johnson, in the case of the man with the solar panels, you probably know that is taken care of, was taken care of in two days once I got involved. Those solar panels are same height as the fence too, on that guys house. Anyhow, yes, that woman should have gotten the first stray cat fixed that showed up. They’re all fixed now, nine are gone, the rest she has contained and that happened in a couple of days. Please do not penalize responsible cat owners with fees to pay for irresponsible ones. I’ll have to find a way to move. My cats are contained, always have been, and I’ve helped a zillion cats in this town and Linn County but I couldn’t pay fees for the ones I have for licenses for each. I’d also like to know where that is where you followed several dozen stray cats down a street and around a corner. I’d like to get them all fixed, before I have to move out of town due to fees placed on my own cats, who are contained and well cared for.

    • Robin says:

      Go to the Lexington area. There is a lady that walks at least 20 of them and they ALL follow her but not one is hers!

  19. Steve Reynolds says:

    Hey Jody, how are you?

    You’re known as the cat lady, kind of famous. In fact I have you in my business card file with a piece of paper that says “Cat Lady (and your phone number)”, a section 8 voucher individual gave it to me, you’re the go to person for any cats issues. We all need to thank you for doing something, makes us feel better than the ODFW way, which says put the cat down. We’ve had several residents that have left their emotional support animals after vacating or the animal became pregnant and you’re the one to call. I don’t like the fact we’re dumping this on you and in fact those animals you fix and release, isn’t it true most of these cats starve, are ate by other animals, die of disease or get hit by cars, those that do fend for themselves have to consume our resident native bird population? But at least we don’t have to see it, sorry, a bit of sarcasm. As long as you’re acting as a crutch for personal responsibility and healthcare service providers that use public feel good laws and don’t take the well being of the animal into consideration when writing permission slips, we should thank you. It’s either the ODFW way or your way, sad part the animal loses either way.

    • TNR advocate in Salem says:

      Your comment to Jody was the most hateful, passive aggressive comment I’ve read in a long time. I know Jody. She has rescued and fixed over TEN THOUSAND cats in Linn, Marion and Polk counties. Do you have ANY idea how many MORE cats there would be if she hadn’t done that? Many of the cats she traps are found replacement homes on farms that need barn cats or sanctuaries. The rest are returned to caregivers who feed and care for them. She follows up with those caregivers as well. She is a hero to Linn county and you should address her as such. Without her efforts and the efforts of many others the county would have much much bigger problems. Signed. A fellow TNR advocate in Salem. So… get off your high horse and either help those starving cats or be quiet!

      • Steve Reynolds says:

        I’m sorry if I offended you “TNR advocate in Salem”, could you point out which part is hateful or where my comment was inaccurate or offensive? If cats are abandoned people call Jody, she is well known.

        Wow, 10,000 cats back into the community, I had no idea it was that many… our fragile ecosystem must really be under stress, don’t you think that’s an issue? Do you have any other ideas besides Trap, Neuter and Return?

        I assume you reject the position of the American Bird Conservancy….

        “Why TNR Programs Fail:

        TNR programs fail because they do not operate in an enclosed system and cannot spay or neuter a sufficient number of cats to affect feral cat numbers at the population level. Despite the good intentions of many involved in TNR programs, TNR has been found to be a waste of time, money, and resources.

        For example, one evaluation of two long-term TNR programs in California and Florida indicated that “any population-level effects were minimal.” The team of researchers concluded that “no plausible combination of [conditions] would likely allow for TNR to succeed in reducing population size.”

        Once feral cats are spayed or neutered, they are then abandoned back into the environment to continue a feral existence. Not only is this systematic abandonment inhumane to the cats, it perpetuates numerous problems such as wildlife predation, transmission of disease, and property destruction.”

        Not trying to offend you, just looking for solutions and giving you observations and past experiences.

        • TNR advocate in Salem says:

          It’s not abandonment to return cats to a caregiver who “cares” for them. That is a point you trap to kill enthusiasts seem to forget about. Many of those rescued cats are not feral and in fact are found indoor homes. You people seem to just have this bloodlust to kill outdoor cats for some reason. That ten thousand would by now have populated to close to 1/2 million cats or more by now. She’s doing your community a huge service by rescuing and vaccinating and fixing that many cats.


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