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Epping selectmen vote to find new homes for feral cats

Union Leader Correspondent

January 08. 2013 11:44PM

EPPING - Selectmen have come up with the purrrrrfect solution to a feral cat problem at the town's recycling center: find them a new home.

In a unanimous vote, selectmen voted Monday night to humanely relocate the six to eight cats still living at the center. They also appointed resident Martha Cunningham to oversee the care of the cats until a new home can be found.

Feral cats have been a problem at the recycling center for years, but selectmen have allowed them to stay as a way to control the rodent population.

A dispute arose last summer over how much food they were being fed by residents who wanted to help care for them. Some selectmen voiced concerns about overfeeding the cats because they feared they would stop eating rodents. They were also worried about residents becoming too possessive of the cats and providing posh living conditions in an empty bay at the center.

"It's not a hotel for cats, but that's what it's turned into," Selectman Tom Gauthier said.

Selectman Dianne Gilbert said she supports the feral cat program to keep rats and mice away, but Town Administrator Gregory Dodge said rodents are no longer a problem.

"They ate them all," Selectman James McGeough joked.

Cunningham and another resident have been feeding the cats to supplement their natural rodent diet during normal recycling center hours, but other residents were showing up when the center was closed to provide even more food.

At least one resident also delivered stuffed animals and other cat toys that some felt were unnecessary.

Dodge said there has been some disagreement over the care of the cats, but that appointing Cunningham to oversee them until they are relocated should help. He said Cunningham also supports the idea of moving the cats out of the recycling center.

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