Several angry West Seneca residents told the Town Board Monday night they are fed up with their yards being treated like big litter boxes by cats roaming their neighborhoods, and they pleaded with board members to get rid of the felines.
At the end of the night, it was unclear whether the board would move forward with a proposal to limit the number of cats per household.
"There's a balance here," said Councilman John M. Rusinski. "I don't want another ordinance on the books that is not enforced."
"We definitely have to do something to help these people who are being abused," added Councilman Eugene P. Hart. "I'm hoping we can come up with a reasonable, fair solution."
Board members heard from many who rescue cats, and they heard from plenty of residents feeling abused by the animals.
Charles Lickfeld, of Dwyer Street, said he has had problems with feral cats for about 13 years. A neighbor feeds them, and leaves her garage door open 6 to 8 inches for them to go in and out, he said.
"Right now, there are 16 or 17 cats in the driveway, food bowls in the driveway, water bowls in the driveway," he said.
"My flower beds are full of feces, urine, all over. I can't take my dog out for a walk at night because there are cats all over the place. Long hair, short hair, tigers - you name it."
Cat lovers and cat rescuers, as well as those who don't want to see another cat in town, converged at the Town Board meeting Monday night for a public hearing on a proposal that would restrict residents to four cats per household.
Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said there have been 23 incidents involving cats overrunning neighborhoods. Problems include howling cats, damage to property, and odor from cat urine and feces keeping people from enjoying their yards.
"Unfortunately, there are people who are not responsible," Meegan said.
The problems can turn neighbor against neighbor, and one of those disputes erupted at the board meeting.
"I live next to the cat lady of Creekview," Carol McMahon said, accusing her neighbor of running a cat rescue for profit. "The smell is disgusting. I can't sit on my front porch."
A woman stood up in the back of the meeting room and called McMahon a liar.
"I spent more than $200,000 of my own money," she said. "She's insulting me. She's making up stories."
The supervisor told the woman to leave after she disrupted the meeting.
As she left, the woman said, "You people have been giving me a hard time since I moved in."
Several members of rescue groups told residents and Town Board members there is help available, and one of the keys is education on how to deal with colonies of cats. Limiting the number of cats per household will not be as effective as getting all the cats spayed and neutered would be, they said.
Meegan said the new regulation would give code enforcement officers and police the authority to go into a house if a problem arises.