LA JUNTA, Colo. — The City of La Junta is cracking down on cats. A feral cat overpopulation in the downtown area has become so problematic, city council developed an ordinance to stop the public from feeding the felines.

City council members say they believe the health hazards, such as the cats eating or attracting other animals with diseases, are too risky. Still others say taking the food away from the feral cats would only make matters worse.

“You just can’t feed those cats on someone else’s property or on the city streets or the on government property or in parks. This is not saying to starve animals,” City Attorney Phil Malouff said.

“When you quit feeding them, they either starve to death or they start scrounging for food,” Jeffri Pruyn said. “So to say that you only want the best for the cats, but then take away the one thing that keeps them healthier and the people that actually take care of them. By them thinking we’re a constant food source for them, it allows us to be able to control them, you know, to be able to pick them up if they’re sick, to be able to catch the little ones and to be able to spay and neuter whenever we can.”

Pruyn is against the ordinance. She is also the former mayor and feeds the cats. She would like to see more of an effort to spay and neuter the feral cats.

Many business owners are upset with how people leave trash to feed the cats around their properties and how cats destroy things on their properties.

“Littering behind my office with totes for them to sleep in – and I don’t like the feces that’s around my building because of these cats and all the food that’s left behind,” one business owner said.

“We have patio furniture out there, but we can’t put cushions on it,” another business owner explained. “The cats destroy it and they destroy it in an unseemly manner.”

Other businesses like the cats because they have seen fewer mice around. There are no shelters for cats in La Junta and some people suggest the city enforce a cat registration so cats aren’t being thrown out into the community.

“Unless you start to trap, spay, neuter, and release them, those populations will never decrease. Feeding them is not what’s keeping them there. It’s breeding,” Pat Hill said.

“You’re going to have citizens that are going to keep releasing them, don’t care, and are just going to keep letting them populate,” Arkansas Valley Animal Hospital Owner Tracey Taullie said. “These cats are not going to go away because of this. They are going to find food. They’re just going to be unhealthy, they’re going to be diseased more because their immune systems are down more. Because you’re not taking care of them.”

Here is the city ordinance that was passed on June 21, 2022.

“Our police department runs on about 13 guys. They answer a thousand calls a month. They do not have time to chase around ladies with bowls of cat food,” Pruyn added.