Cat licensing pushed to slow increase at animal shelters

COVINGTON — His may not be the perfect solution to slowing an increase in cats making their way to a Northern Kentucky animal shelter, but Dan Evans is willing to try.

Evans, who runs the Kenton County Animal Shelter in Covington, is pitching the idea of licensing and animal control regulations for cats.

"We need to let people know we are taking in 1,000 more cats than dogs," Evans said. "We need to bring the issue of cats roaming at large to the forefront."

The Kentucky Enquirer reported that, as of Dec. 1, 3,053 cats that came into the shelter in 2009, compared with 2,192 dogs. Only 29 of those cats were reclaimed by their owners, compared with 462 dogs.

The shelter adopted out another 276 cats this year. The rest were euthanized. Most of the 3,000-plus cats each year that come into the shelter don't get claimed.

Evans and shelter volunteer Janet Scanlon of Fort Wright have approached the Covington City Commission about adopting regulations for cats similar to the one the Cincinnati suburb and many other cities have in place for dogs.

Scanlon and Evans want Covington to adopt an ordinance similar to Kenton County Fiscal Court's ordinances that require cat licenses and prohibit the owner of any vertebrate animal to let that animal run at large. They will also go to other large cities in Kenton County with the same plea.

In Kenton County's ordinances, failure of cat owners to license cats or keep them off the street results in a fine.

Stray cats are held three days for owners to claim them before being put up for adoption. They can stay at the shelter for a month.

If people are required to get a license for their cats, they may be less likely to discard them, Scanlon said. Too many see cats as disposable pets, she said.

"I want to bring the level and status of cats where it should be," Scanlon said.

Scanlon calls the summer months "cat season," when people bring in litters. July had the most cats processed this year, with 416. The shelter can accommodate 100 cats and 100 dogs at a time.

"They bring in cats by the boxes," Scanlon said.

Evans and Scanlon may have an ally in City Commissioner Sherry Carran, who hopes to get such an ordinance considered in early 2010.

"It is very hard to see the cats roaming around, not cared for, being euthanized," Carran said.