Ellicott District resident Bohdan Chomyn counts as many as 10 cats living in his neighborhood.
He's not happy about it, and he said Monday that the cats damage his property by making his yard uninhabitable and scratching his cars.
In an effort to get a handle on the city's cat population, Council Member Darius G. Pridgen has a proposal to require city cat owners to license their pets, though he said his legislation is just a way to start the conversation. Meanwhile, cat experts said legislation won't curb the cat population; only spaying and neutering will.
To County Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant's dismay, her University Heights property has become a refuge for neighborhood cats.
Her neighbor likes to feed cats that roam the block, and they defecate in Grant's yard and flower boxes, creating a health hazard for her family, she said.
Grant's shaded patio is host to between 12 and 18 cats at any one time, partly because she has a fence, which makes the cats feel safe.
"Never had a cat," she said. "Not my favorite animal."
Grant is sensitive to her constituents who may be fond of cats and said she doesn't have anything against them, but she doesn't want them in her yard.
Calls to the city and animal shelters haven't been able to resolve the situation, she said.
Pridgen said that he is trying to help residents who are frustrated by the lack of response from authorities about unwanted neighborhood cats and that he is not trying to find the city a new revenue stream.
"In a city where you have to have a permit to have chickens, a license to have a dog, there is no requirement for people to register their cats," he said. "I understand it's a hot-button issue, but the way I've decided to approach it is to really hear from the public before even thinking of penning any sort of legislation because there are two sides to this discussion."
Without having a procedure requiring cat owners to register their cats, there is no way to know whether a cat is a stray or someone's pet, he said.
Pridgen said he hasn't thought about how a licensing proposal would affect the city workforce or about fees, and is thinking first about what the best solution is.
Edie Offhaus,co-founder of Feral Cat Focus, called any proposal to license cats "almost laughable."
"There's no way you're going to enforce that," Offhaus said. "I'm sure that animal control in the City of Buffalo has better things to do than run around and get people to adhere to some kind of licensing."
More effort needs to be made to spay or neuter and vaccinate cats, and return them to their neighborhoods, she said. "It's all about keeping the numbers down," she said.
Cats that don't belong to any one owner but are being fed by people in the neighborhood are a community issue and should be dealt with by people in the community, said Gina Browning, director of public relations at the SPCA Serving Erie County.
Chomyn, who lives near Gates Circle, said he has called multiple agencies for help but has not found relief.
He said that the cats can carry infection and that he is afraid to be in his yard.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss the resolution during the Legislation Committee meeting Oct. 9.