Feral-cat bill moves at county council; prohibits feeding, abandonment

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    A feral cat comes out of the underbrush to check out roadkill along Ahukini Road last spring.

LIHU‘E — A cat-centric county bill that would tighten up compliance with seabird-protection mandates passed first reading before the County Council Wednesday.

The new legislation would shorten hold times for microchipped felines at the Kaua‘i Humane Society, prohibit abandonment of cats islandwide, prohibit feeding of cats on county property and retool the county code’s definition of cat ownership for clarity.

“Kaua‘i is the last refuge for a number of native birds, and cats have certainly had a devastating impact on all of these populations,” Councilmember Luke Evslin, who introduced the bill alongside Council Vice Chair Mason Chock, said. “It’s also our legal responsibility … under the Kaua‘i Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan, to reduce cat populations on county property.”

The KSHCP charts a course for the county to offset the incidental take of endangered species — which include the Newell’s shearwater and the Hawaiian petrel — that can become disoriented and grounded by artificial lighting operated at night.

Since the county cannot eliminate its take entirely, it must focus on minimizing fallout-stricken birds’ mortality rate, according to First Deputy County Attorney Mahealani Krafft.

“They can’t retake flight, so they become subject to predation,” Krafft told the council.

Under the habitat-conservation plan, the county must reduce the presence of predators at its facilities, in part by banning the feeding of roaming cats and dogs.

The KSHCP does not require the prohibition on cat abandonment put forward in Evslin and Chock’s bill. But the proposal is intended to make it easier for the county to comply with other predator-control obligations.

“If there’s less predators to start off with, there’s less predators to remove,” Krafft said. “It presumably will reduce the predation and increase the likelihood of discovering grounded seabirds.”

Enforcement of these measures would be carried out by park rangers, according to William Trujillo of the county Department of Parks & Recreation (Director Pat Porter was absent at Wednesday’s council meeting due to emergency-response work in Waimea).

Councilmembers received 115 pages of written testimony prior to the bill’s reading. All but one expressed support of the legislation, which passed first reading and is subject to a public hearing on Feb. 9.


Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Doug January 16, 2022 9:38 am Reply

    Question: What do you think the cats will eat if not fed? Answer: baby birds.

    1. Answers January 18, 2022 2:42 pm Reply

      If you feed them, they’ll eat your food, reproduce more, and also eat the birds.

    2. john clayton January 19, 2022 8:58 am Reply

      They will eat anything. As good hunters as cats are, most non-domesticated cats live short miserable lives, Lack of food, disease, and predators all make it hard for them to survive very long. This is another law in a long list of laws that cant be enforced and in the long run, will not change a thing.

  2. concernedcitizen January 16, 2022 12:07 pm Reply

    Why is it that Government only knows how to spend money, and has no clue about how to accomplish anything else? Everyone has to ask the tough question. Do you want Cats all over the Island, or all our birds GONE? There are feral cat feeders all over the Island, and unfortunately a ban on County land feeders does nothing! They’ll just flip you the bird and move next door! There is only one way to solve the cat problem and save our birds. A bounty on cats! Provide our local hunters, trappers and youth with a way to make significant money and feed their families! Solve the problem once and for all instead of playing politician for votes by proposing something that will accomplish nothing! Feral cats and big rats are the last thing our beloved Kauai can afford!

    1. KauaiFarmMan January 19, 2022 7:46 am Reply

      Finally a good solution. Place a bounty and local hunters and trappers will make a significant reduction in cat populations. We need to manage this problem. I for one love to watch and listen to the beautiful wild birds that have called this home long before people did. Wild cats leave feces every where which are infecting people with toxoplasmosis. Think reasonably people . Unfortunately there’s only one way to solve this problem and that’s extermination. If we protect one non native species many native species will suffer. The natural order dictates we get rid of cats. Honest citizens need to take matters into their own hands and trap cats. Drop me off at human society or put them down.

    2. For the love of Kauai! January 22, 2022 6:49 pm Reply

      Thank you Council for passing this important legislation! It’s about time the very serious feral cat problem we have here has begun to be addressed. We should follow New Zealand’s example and put a bounty on cats and remove any cats that are outdoors – cats belong inside particularly on an island where native birds had no mammalian predators. The birds are not evolved to escape cats. I can’t tell you how many feral cats are on my property and I have to continually remove them which I hate! It is not the cats fault which is why it’s so sad, but unfortunately we can’t euthanize stupid, irresponsible people so now the cats have to face the consequences. Don’t be ignorant – protect Kauai’s native species and culture by keeping your cat indoors and removing all others.

  3. Cindy Kemnitz January 16, 2022 1:20 pm Reply

    It’s sick that you plan on killing the feral. What about those light things?
    It was stated they cause harm but you’re not removing them. I suppose they make money. Why do the animals have to suffer *& be killed. People are the reason there are so many cats running loose. Go after the people that turn them loose not the cats

  4. Cindy January 16, 2022 2:03 pm Reply

    Council, you are a bunch of heartless people! Many cats are dumped and it is not their fault that they come looking for food. Any cat that comes to my house WILL BE fed. You should have listened to the residents because you were voted in! That will never
    happen again!

    1. Krill January 19, 2022 6:03 am Reply

      How about mandatory spay/neutering for cats as well?

  5. Deborah Brown January 16, 2022 2:32 pm Reply

    To Whom This May Concern, We All Need To Come Together And Protect The LORDS Creation By Having These Cats And Dogs Nuetered And Shots And Rehome The LORDS CREATION!!!!We Protect All The LORD’S CREATION Sincerely Deborah Brown

  6. Ima Nottellinu January 16, 2022 2:58 pm Reply

    Dont feed the cats?! How safe do you think the sea birds will be when the cats get hungry? How cruel are you people?? This is every bit as bad as refusing to feed children. .TNR is a proven, humane strategy. You should look into it. Rehome the friendly ones & TNR the rest

  7. Jennifer January 16, 2022 4:29 pm Reply

    Have you never heard of trap and release programs? The most humane thing to do is to trap all the felines and move them to a better suited location! While it seemed the council takes the easy way out or rather the most inhumane way out by starving the animals. No one will rise up and speak out for these poor animals they did not ask to be there and only rely on the mercy of others also if you quit feeding them they are going to catch your birds might I add the birds should be at a zoo under a conservation program if they are indeed becoming extinct this is the most undesirable method I have ever heard of I’m glad these council members are not running the show and higher up places all animal lovers should band together and protest this. Also there is a higher authority up in heaven what comes around does go around and karma is an excellent deliver of Justice so when our said council membersgo through some bad things in life I hope they look back on what they have voted to be a suitable solution

  8. Linda Mclennan January 16, 2022 6:39 pm Reply

    Australia tried a heavy-handed feral cat elimination policy that caused rodents to explode out of control.They’ve just come through a rodent apocalypse /plague of the worst magnitude,where entire farming operations were destroyed,billions in damages to grain-stores,crops,& wildlife populations decimated.You better get more intelligent input to the feral cat problem than these short-sighted policies show.

  9. Annabel January 16, 2022 8:04 pm Reply

    Harsh inhumane law to starve cats

  10. Jeffrey and Sherry Bryant January 16, 2022 9:20 pm Reply

    I think its horrible that feral cats are now going to be rounded up and killed.This issue is an issue with humans,owners who have not taken responsibility for their cats,don’t get them fixed,put them outside,let them roam outside and then act like the cat or cats don’t belong to them once the cats become pregnant!This is the fault of irresponsible humans not these cats or dogs! People need to be held accountable for the over abundance of cats/kittens or dogs,not the animals!

  11. Glenna Okeefe January 17, 2022 4:18 am Reply

    So the abandoned cats and dogs supposed to starve to death? Shame on you.

  12. Karen Mead January 17, 2022 9:02 am Reply

    I guess they do realize that hungry cats will kill MORE birds not LESS??? I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Cats with a full belly are too lazy to kill anything.

    1. c'mon January 18, 2022 2:44 pm Reply

      Just adopt the cat yourself then.

  13. Rev Dr Malama January 17, 2022 9:38 am Reply

    All this rhetoric and every day you go to paddle your $10,000 canoe at Niumalu there is a person feeding the feral cats and chickens….

  14. Concerned Citizen January 17, 2022 11:57 am Reply

    It is unfortunate that Kaua’i Humane Society has adopted a “no kill” policy. Feral cats present a grave danger for native wildlife. They should be euthanized. Sending cats to the mainland just exports the problem to other areas.

  15. Marie January 17, 2022 9:56 pm Reply

    You need to invest in enforcing spaying and neutering of all loose dogs and cats picked up. If you charge $1,000 for each dog or cat not neutered or spayed in the county it would pay for enforcement, there would be less dogs and cats loose. If you don’t enforce spay and neutering there will just continually be more cats and dogs and continually be a problem. If you make it costly to have a dog or cat not spayed or neutered, dogs and cats would also be valued more and not so many strays or unwanted dogs and cats on our island. Otherwise everything is a temporary topical fix it. You need to address the root of the problem.

  16. Kayla January 18, 2022 4:44 am Reply

    Shorten hold times of microchipped cats? ?? These animals are somebody’s pets! Set up feral cat colonies for the homeless. If u feed them they will not try to eat birds. That’s what we rescuers
    do. It’s RACIST to protect 1 group of animals,birds, & euthanize another species

    1. really January 18, 2022 2:45 pm Reply

      So, cats are more important to you than native animals, but everyone else is the racist?

    2. KauaiFarmMan January 19, 2022 7:37 am Reply

      RACIST!?! You should check the definition!
      If you feed feral cats they thrive and breed more. By feeding them their populations are spiraling out of control. Well fed cats kill plenty of birds just for fun. The sad truth is if we don’t manage this population through termination of cats , more and more native bird species will become endangered and extinct. I think the toxoplasmosis has gone to the heads of all these crazy cat people. Save the birds! Kill the cats!

  17. Louis C MAZZELLA January 18, 2022 11:08 am Reply

    Maybe we should kill other birds that eat those birds instead of protecting the other birds.We should also ban cars and trucks caused they hit seabirds when they fly.Finally lets kill everything in them ocean so no ocean predators can eat the birds.

    1. KauaiFarmMan January 19, 2022 7:40 am Reply

      Very sensible logic ! You should run for office , I’m sure Democratic voters will love your rational approach. Cats aren’t part of the natural ecosystem you propose killing.

  18. Jjjames January 18, 2022 10:17 pm Reply

    This explains a LOT, doesn’t it !!!
    Toxoplasma is a common ‘cat parasite’, and has previously been in the spotlight owing to its observed effect on risk-taking and other human behaviors. To some extent, it has also been associated with mental illness. A study led by researchers in Sweden now demonstrates for the first time how the parasite enters the brain to influence its host.

  19. Space_2022 March 18, 2022 12:50 pm Reply

    The three measures would make it illegal to feed feral cats on any county property; make it illegal to abandon a cat; and would reduce the required hold time of a lost cat by an animal care shelter from nine days to five days. Together, the bill, which passed first reading at the County Council on Wednesday and is heading for a public hearing on Feb. 9, is geared toward protecting native seabirds by impeding feral cat population growth.

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