Two years ago when a hungry stray cat came to her doorstep, animal lover Judy Wahl started feeding it outside.
Now she's got a problem because she's moving to an apartment and doesn't know how the 11 outside cats she now feeds will survive.
Wahl said she adopted a cat on her doorstep three years ago and has another inside cat as well. She just fed the male cat that showed up two years ago outside because she didn't think a third cat would fit into her household.
But she said the cat was so sweet she didn't mind opening her garage and setting out food when the male showed up with a female. Then came the kittens a litter of four in March and another litter about six weeks ago.
"I just want to find homes for them," she said. "These cats are beautiful and they are all tame." She said the animals have never behaved like the feral cats that have plagued some homes in the city.
She said the cats stay on her property so they have not been a problem in the neighborhood. "I'm called the cat lady," Wahl said. "Nobody minds them because they don't bother anyone. This is their home. They stay here."
Wahl said she leaves her garage door open so they can get out of the weather. The cats also enjoy a heated water bowl and a heating pad in the garage.
Now she is worried because her ex-husband will be moving into the home at 13 Westwind Drive at the end of the year and he told her he wouldn't continue to feed the cats. She can only move her two inside cats, Maggie and Molly, to her apartment.
Wahl has named most of the cats Mama and Papa are the male and female that showed up first. The four males born in March are Shadow, Rascal, Brownie and Pixie. How about the five younger kittens? "I haven't named them yet, they're still timid," she said.
The Humane Society will not accept the cats because they are considered strays as long as they are outside cats, Wahl said. The cost to spay and neuter the animals at a veterinarian's office would be high $134 for each female and $96 for each male.
Stray cats have been a problem in the city for years. City council discussed the problem in September when resident Don Ratliff, of 34 Jefferson St., told council that feral cats had invaded his property.
Councilman Robert Carleton, who had researched the issue, said at that meeting the best solution for stray cats is a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. He said it takes from three to five years for a comprehensive program to handle the problem.
Mayor Sue Lesch said the city has researched the problem, but a solution could cost up to "six-digit figures."
"We just don't have the funds to do it," she said. " Everything we've looked at is so cost prohibitive."
Lesch said the city is trying to work with the Humane Society to find solutions for residents plagued by stray cats. "We hope to sit down sometime next year and see what options there are for people," she said.
After the September meeting, Lesch did mention a program called Neuter Scooter.
Neuter Scooter is a traveling program that brings veterinarians and supplies to communities and spays or neuters cats for $40 if paid in advance. The service charges $50 for walk-in clients. Cats should be at least four months old to be spayed or neutered.