Local stray cat population may be on the rise. Here’s why.

Port Huron has a stray cat problem. Resident Alecia Moore said she first noticed it after she and her husband bought a house on the city’s north side in August 2020.

She talked to neighbors about it, touching base with them this past summer as she began researching solutions.

“I’m a huge animal lover, and so when a member of my family was like, ‘Oh, there’s a bunch of kittens outside,’ I went out and I sat with them on the sidewalk and was playing with them,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday. “After that, I was like, OK, there’s a bunch of kittens. That means they’ll be able to start having babies in a few months, and that’s not good.”

Stray and feral cats seem to be increasingly roaming neighborhoods, according to Moore, other volunteers, and leaders with area shelters and animal organizations.

Already an issue in some residential areas before the COVID-19 pandemic, they said the unchecked population was only exacerbated by a temporary shutdown of vital programs to spay or neuter strays, as well as residents who abandoned their cats and litters of offspring.

Volunteers trapped nearly two dozen cats in a Port Huron neighborhood in early November 2021 to be taken to the St. Clair County Humane Society/SNAP to be spayed or neutered.

“That put everybody out,” Melissa Miller, director for St. Clair County Animal Control, said of the pandemic’s impact. “I mean, anybody with a pet knows that just simply getting a regular physical right now and your yearly shots, they’re booking out like two to three months. So, it puts a lot of veterinarians kind of behind and a lot of pressure on.