Cat

New bill takes look at cat holding period at Kaua‘i Humane Society

LIHU‘E — In 2021, about 90% of microchipped cats held at the Kaua‘i Humane Society were picked up by their owners in five days or less.

KHS is currently required by county law to hold microchipped cats for nine days. However, that may soon change.

A new bill being introduced at the Kaua‘i County Council today seeks to shorten that to five days.

KHS Executive Director Nicole Schafer Crane said that shortening of the cat-holding period will allow those animals to be put on the floor for adoption sooner, sharing her support of the proposed bill.

“I know people were concerned about (this bill), but we were looking at our numbers of microchipped cats that came into the shelter and how quickly they got redeemed (reclaimed),” Schafer Crane said.

“People that are microchipping their cats are coming into the shelter pretty quickly when they realize their cat’s gone missing.”

It is required of cat and dog owners to microchip their pets.

At the shelter, the average length of a cat stay is 60 days, and about 80 for a dog.

So even if a cat is placed up for potential adoption or transferring to a mainland location, there is still a chance the animal would be at KHS following the initial hold period anyway.

“We feel really confident that people who are coming in to redeem are going to do it within that timeframe,” Schafer Crane said.

This proposed Draft Bill No. 2842, being introduced by Council Vice Chair Mason Chock and Councilmember Luke Evslin, would also make it illegal to feed or abandon cats on county property.

The bill states it would be consistent with the county’s Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan, which requires the county to reduce seabird predators at county facilities.

The proposed draft also points to Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council findings that “feral cats are one of the most-devastating predators of Hawai‘i’s unique wildlife.

In addition to direct predation, feral cats also spread a potentially lethal parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) that contaminates terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, and has been shown to negatively impact birds and mammals, including humans.”

But cats can’t be the only predators to blame if you’re looking at a bigger picture, Schafer Crane said.

“When we make a statement like ‘feral cats are the most-devastating predators on wildlife,’ I feel it comes with different weights,” Schafer Crane said.

“In Hawai‘i, we don’t have that arrangement of predators (like coyotes and raccoons). We have cats, we’ve got rodents, other islands have mongoose. … We’re not denying that feral cats have the potential to harm birds or kill birds, we’re very aware of the reality, but sometimes cats get blamed for a little too much.”

Feral-cat populations are best tackled in a multi-pronged approach, combining methods of spay and neutering, transferring cats off the island, establishing a cat sanctuary and providing assistance to cat-colony caretakers.

“Cats have been here a long time. People introduced them,” Schafer Crane said.

“Cats are just being cats. They’re just trying to eat and survive.”

The council will take up the issue today at its 8:30 a.m. meeting available to watch at kauai.gov/webcastmeetings.

•••

Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or [email protected]