St. C. Cats

Dear Editor,

Eleven years ago I began feeding a small group of kittens and cats in the Saint Clairsville Memorial Park.

I fed them because they were nearly starved, the little ones too small to forage, and the older two, sick and in need of care. Some of these cats are still in the Park today because of the food, veterinarian care, and attention they received from three of us throughout the following years. Today they are in an area of the Park where we have been permitted to continue feeding them by Park officials. All of their food, care, and veterinary care is paid for by those of us involved in feeding them. Sick cats, mostly those dropped off in inhumane ways in the Park, are recognized by us, and immediately taken for testing…in most cases the poor things tossed out of cars in the Park are very ill, and must be put down. Just a few tossed from cars have been saved, and one of those is my boy cat, Calvin, who was 6 years old when he was seen being thrown from a moving car. He is a quiet and healthy cat, very attentive and loving. He lives in his forever home with me.

The Saint Clairsville Memorial Park BOARD sent the three of us a letter last week informing us that we would no longer be permitted to feed the 13-15 cats in the Park, even though we have been permitted through all these years to do so. The letter said that if we were caught feeding the cats after June 30, we would be barred from all Park facilities for an indefinite period of time or permanently, and/or arrested for trespassing. The Park Board has NO CLUE how much care we take in ensuring the safety of these animals and how much devotion we have to them.

There has never been an issue with these cats; they stay in their habitat even when very large picnics are taking place. They don’t come out or bother park guests because they aren’t hungry–they are fed. When I go down to feed them and people see a cat or two there is amazement that the cats have stayed secluded in their area, down over the bank, behind hay bales.

The Park Board states the cats cannot be fed on Park property. After all these years of permitting it, they want us to let the cats go without food, or more bluntly, the Park Board doesn’t care if they starve. I truly don’t believe the cats will survive without us because of the long term commitment we have had to them for all these years. Their habitat is kept clean by us and they are all beautiful cats. About 75% of them were spayed through a grant last year so they are not a growing group. Some of them are more than 8 years old. The average age is probably 5-6 years.

Please help to keep these cats from starving after June 30 by calling the Park Board and letting them know that you care about the inhumane action they are demanding. These are innocent animals, who have been accustomed to being fed. They harm no one and they will wait faithfully for us to come until they die. It truly breaks my heart to think of it.

Norma Rodebaugh