A proposal to license cats in Buffalo as a way to curb their numbers was panned Tuesday during the first opportunity for public input on the matter.

Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen reiterated that his resolution is a way to start the discussion on what should be done to reduce the number of cats roaming Buffalo streets and that he is looking for public input first.

A committee of experts in the field will be asked to bring recommendations to the city on how to deal with cat overpopulation, Pridgen said, adding that he has not proposed limiting the number of cats a household may have.

Several people who work with cats told members of the Legislation Committee that the only effective method of controlling the population of “community cats,” or colonies of cats that live in one area and are not owned by any household, is to spay or neuter them, vaccinate them and return them to the area.

If the cats are not returned, other cats will eventually move in, they said.

The problem with writing legislation to address the situation is that the situation can change, and there could be unintended consequences, said Carol Tutzauer, president of Buffalo Humane.

Tutzauer has noted that asking cat owners to license their indoor cats won’t do anything to curb the population of free-roaming community cats, and she said it could contribute to the problem, as people who are worried about being fined release their cats outdoors.

Licensing also could prevent people from taking responsibility for stray cats for fear they will be fined, some speakers said.

Edie Offhaus, co-founder of Feral Cat Focus, said that only spaying and neutering community cats will help and that the city will never rid itself of them entirely.

“Let’s make Buffalo the area where the ideas will work,” she said.