Petaluma, CA Feral Cats at Risk

Since passing the feral cat ordinance in 2004, Petaluma has been trapping and killing feral cats by the hundreds each year. The cats have been banned from all City parks and a block from any city parks; All wetlands (the Petaluma river runs through the city) and half a mile from any wetlands. City post signs in parks and wetlands, but cats cannot read the signs.

There are 47 parks in Petaluma for a total of 260.5 acres. The City of Petaluma is appr. 10,300 acres. Adding one block to all parks and half mile to wetlands, plus adding every home, (Petaluma population 59,600) buildings, roads and highways, leave no room for cats in Petaluma let alone feral cats.

The 2004 Petaluma feral cat ordinance, drafted by Petaluma Animal Shelter Manager and Wetlands Docents, was approved by the Petaluma City Council unanimously. The ordinance was modeled after “Cats Indoors” organizations such as ABC (American Bird Conservancy) and PRBO, (Point Reyes Bird Observatory, who want all cats indoors in total disregard for homeless cats.

A small group has been working at changing the ordinance and giving a voice to feral cats. It is a long and slow process. Personally, my role is to bring facts and apply pressure on City government to do what is right and to stop killing all the cats in Petaluma. I have rescued feral cats and kittens for more than ten years and when I gave up my project, there were many volunteers in Petaluma working at TNR programs. But the ordinance killed all that. Volunteers, punished by the feral cat ordinance, either abandoned their colonies or are working underground in fear of retribution from City animal shelter employees who endorse the ordinance.

I am working so hard at reversing that ordinance and fighting the City of Petaluma . . . I am drained and afraid that when it comes to City Council again (very soon) they will listen again to wetlands docents and City employees (as they did in 2004) and then, the cats will lose again.

What you can do? E-mails and letters to City of Petaluma from all over the U.S. would be of great help. Tell them that Petaluma needs to allow a TNR program for feral cats (Trap/Neuter/Release) They refused help from near-by TNR organizations in 2004.

You can find author Elle Guy and more information at:

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One Response to “Petaluma, CA Feral Cats at Risk”

  1. Elle says:

    Update on Petaluma feral cats in a letter to Petaluma City Council Members:

    There was a celebration of sort in Petaluma when we heard that animal shelter manager resigned several weeks ago. We had hopes for Petaluma animals - specially homeless and feral cats.

    After being turned down several times by this city, Jennifer Kirchner, Executive Director for Forgotten Felines, was talked into getting involved again and she pleaded for Petaluma homeless and feral cats. Last Monday evening, this council turned down the help of Forgotten Felines again. We were all so surprised. I gave each council member a video “Born Feral” about the work of Forgotten Felines. I was hoping you would look at it. It was your duty to educate yourself. I have done everything humanely possible to save our homeless and feral cats.

    Something stinks at Petaluma City Hall and it is not cats. It is dirty politics and we need to make some drastic changes. We, the people of Petaluma, need to wake up and take charge of our government. The general population expects our animals treated fairly. Many of us worked so hard toward these goals.

    I am so heartbroken - and embarrassed to be a resident of Petaluma where river docents and dear friends of this council talk about killing or getting rid of everything that get in their way. What is left for me to do is to work at replacing this council because I think Petaluma deserves better.

    Last Monday I heard a Shollenberger docent complaining about the lack of visitors. What they (docents) don’t understand is that birdwatchers are disappointed after one visit. They go back home and they tell their friends that what they read about Petaluma River and wetland was not what they experienced. Birdwatchers are like everyone else. They are not dumb people and they don’t want cats or white swans killed. When the rest of the country hears that again Petaluma failed to protect animals, tourists may stop by but won’t be staying in Petaluma.

    I am so, so disappointed. Poor Cats


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