NEWARK, Ohio - The upside is that residents of Towns Mobile Home Park don't have to worry much about rodents. The downside is the place is being overrun by feral cats.
NEWARK, Ohio — The upside is that residents of Towns Mobile Home Park don’t have to worry much about rodents.
The downside is the place is being overrun by feral cats.
Probably 20 feral cats are running around the small trailer park atop a scenic hill on the city’s northeastern side, manager Bonnie Fox said.
“They go under the skirting to hide and then get up in the insulation and have litters of kittens,” she said.
They also threaten her livelihood. Fox said mobile-home parks are regulated by the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission, which periodically inspects them.
“State law says that domestic house pets are not allowed to run at large within a manufactured-home community,” she said. “If inspectors came in and saw feral cats running around, they don’t cite the homeowner or whoever is feeding the cats. They consider it a violation written against our license to operate.”
Fox traps the cats and turns them over to Newark’s animal-control officer, Toby Wills, who takes them to the Licking County Animal Shelter.
“No other county around us takes cats anymore,” said county dog warden John Silva. “We do our best to address the problem, and do it better than most. But it’s not just a city problem or a county problem. It’s a state problem.”
The problem, Silva said, is that cats aren’t licensed or regulated. And because his department, like every other county animal shelter in Ohio, is funded almost exclusively by the sale of dog licenses, its focus is dealing with problem dogs.
“It’s against the law to use dog-license dollars to catch cats,” Silva said.
Wills works for Newark’s public-safety department and can answer stray-cat calls — unless there’s nowhere to take them.
“From time to time, there’s no room at the inn,” Safety Director Bill Spurgeon said of the animal shelter. “They got saturated last month and said they couldn’t take any more.”
Licking County animal-control officer Tyler Moore said the shelter has room for about 20 cats. Kittens might be put up for adoption. Many cats are put to death. This year, the shelter has adopted out 87 cats and euthanized 71, Moore said.
Fox is concerned that the cats will attract a bigger problem: coyotes.
Cats’ scent glands are often used to trap coyotes, said coyote expert Stan Gehrt, an Ohio State University assistant professor. But Gehrt said there’s probably little cause for concern.
“Coyotes won’t usually have any use for a mobile-home park unless someone is putting food out for the cats,” he said. “And they do occasionally eat cats.
“The bigger concern is just having a lot of cats around. They can carry toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease), which potentially can be transferred to people.”