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A battle between cat lovers and bird lovers spells trouble for feral-cat caregivers

January 26, 2010 |  4:57 pm

Cat lovers and bird lovers have long been at odds, and rarely has the animal-related animosity been more evident than during the recent battle between L.A.-based feral-cat advocacy group FixNation and a coalition of bird enthusiasts. It's a battle that went to court, ending in a decision that has left feral-cat caregivers fuming. Our colleague Kimi Yoshino has the story; here's an excerpt:

Feral cat The line forms even before the doors open at FixNation in Sun Valley. The trappers come, five days a week, back seats and trunks loaded with feral cats. Inside is a highly organized production line: On an average day, about 80 cats will be neutered, then released 24 hours later into the neighborhoods they came from.

This largely volunteer effort seeks to control a problem that vexes cities everywhere: how to manage homeless, free-roaming cats -- thought to number at least 1 million in Los Angeles -- while trying to avoid euthanizing them.

But the Audubon Society and other bird and wildlife groups say the program violates state environment laws. And what's more, they contend it isn't reducing the number of feral cats, which prey on many types of birds.

So the bird people took the city to court, much to the dismay of the cat people. Last month, after a daylong trial, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with the plaintiffs, and it recently issued an injunction barring the city from subsidizing or promoting the trap-neuter-release program until environmental studies are completed.

In the long-playing Sylvester-vs.-Tweety battles, score a big one for the birds.


Photo: Luis Rivera prepares a stray cat for surgery at FixNation. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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