KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are as many as 15,000 to 21,000 feral cats on the Garden Isle, according to the Kauai Humane Society. The City Council is working on the problem by regulating pet cats.
On Kauai nearly half of the lost dogs are reunited with owners but only 6 percent of lost cats make it back to their homes. A bill approved by the Council hopes to fix that. Speaking of fixing, it would also require outdoor pet cats to be spayed or neutered.
In Hawaii dog owners are charged a licensing fee, but cats get away scot free. When Kauai County was talking about raising dog fees it got them thinking about fees for felines.
"It's only fair and equitable and again we receive more stray cats than stray dogs. Last year we received 900 more stray cats than stray dogs," said Penny Cistaro, Kauai Humane Society Executive Director.
The license will help return lost cats home. They also want to address the homeless cat population so the bill requires pet cats that go outside and off their owner's property to be spayed or neutered.
"If you do not let your cat outside your cat still needs to be licensed but the cat will not be required to be spayed or neutered. However if your cat does get outside and comes into the shelter we are going to encourage you to get that cat spayed or neutered," said Cistaro.
"After talking to a lot of cat owners for and against the bill it just seemed like a lot of ado for a small revenue stream," said Mel Rapozo, Kauai City Councilmember.
Councilman Rapozo voted against the bill saying it is more of money maker for the Kauai Humane Society than a solution to the cat issues. Plus he says the County spent $30,000 on Feral Cat Task Force so let's wait for the results.
"We passed a bill yesterday that is two months shy of getting that report which I don't think is prudent at all," said Councilman Rapozo.
The license would be $10 a year for fixed cats and $30 for unaltered animals. Owners could also opt for a two year license for $15 for spayed/neutered cats or $50 for unaltered cats.
It's expected to raise about $17,000 the first year it's applied.
"$17,000 is a good chunk of change for us yes," said Cistaro.
"In reality what it is is a revenue generating bill for humane society," said Councilman Rapozo.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho has 10 days to sign or reject the bill. It would take effect as soon as it's approved.