Mount Prospect trustees have spent three meetings and almost eight hours talking about feral cats.
The latest three-hour meeting on Tuesday left the group no closer to a solution on how to deal with the village's 44 registered cat colonies. Each averages five or six cats apiece, with the largest around 30 cats.
On one side, there are residents who are sick and tired of the roaming outdoor cats. On the other are residents who are fiercely protective of them. Mount Prospect's village code doesn't limit the number of feral cats a person can feed as long as that person registers the cat colony with the Cook County Health Department. Once the colony is registered, each cat is trapped, spayed or neutered, and given the proper inoculations before being returned to the wild.
On Tuesday, the board looked at making owners of some especially bothersome feral colonies build a 6-foot fence to keep the cats on their property. But even that idea is wrought with issues, according to some trustees. For example, some cat experts said cats will simply climb over the fence, which also might be an eyesore for neighbors anyway.
"We're going to make a decision on a fence, and we don't even know if it's going work?" Trustee John Korn said. "It just seems ridiculous to pass an ordinance that we know isn't going to work."
Trustee John Matuszak pointed out that a fence won't prohibit the cats from making noise.
Assistant Village Manager David Strahl said there won't be an ordinance that will make everyone happy.
"There isn't a perfect solution," he said. "But let's get something on start with and modify it down the road."
Mount Prospect resident Julie Filipic lives on the 300 block of South Pine Street and has been dealing with her neighbor's feral cats for years.
She said besides requiring a fence, the village should set a maximum number of cats a colony can have.
"According to this, someone could have 30 or 50 cats," she said. "There has to be some kind of limit."
While village officials monitor feral cats, nonprofit groups like the Feral Feline Project trap, neuter and release them. They spay and neuter the cats at no charge if the colony caretaker can't afford it, said Serena Fried, president of the group.
The Cook County ordinance allowing registered cat colonies was adopted in 2007 after health officials feared rabies would spread to the cat population and then to humans. Between November 2007 and October 2009, 3,563 cats were spayed or neutered. Left alone, they would have produced 70,000 kittens, according to Cook County health officials.
Mount Prospect Mayor Irvana Wilks said residents have been complaining about feral cats for years.
"I would love not to deal with feral cats," she said. "Ever since I was a trustee people come to me and say, 'Help us deal with the wildlife.' It's happening throughout the village of Mount Prospect."
Cats: Colony registration began in 2007