Hundreds of feral cats have made their home at two Oakland high school campuses and officials are struggling to find a solution.
“They are feral cats. They leave a huge mess. It becomes airborne, it’s all dried up,” said Jose Quesada, a maintenance worker at Freedom High School.
“There’s one right in there! There’s one looking at me in there,” said Quesada as he pointed a flashlight under at storage container at the back of the school.
The school district says a recent health inspection contained a “red flag” indicating something must be done about the feral cats. Professional trappers were hired for $2200 with limited results.
“There’s just so many of them,” said Quesada.
The school district says the mess the cats leave behind is so bad that it has to be washed away from beneath classrooms because the odor makes for a poor learning environment for students.
The district has also sought aid from non-profit Cat Support Network of Walnut Creek which began trapping cats in September.
“We trapped a hundred and 158 cats. Out of that number there were 64 kittens that were put into adoption programs. We had to euthanize four and 90 were returned to the campuses,” said Michelle Ballesteros, Cat Support Network board member.
Ballesteros disagrees with the district’s decision to hire trappers to remove the cats arguing that the “colony” of feral cats must be controlled through proper feeding and spay and neutering.
“Trap and remove is just going to waste a lot of money and do nothing to help the situation,” said Ballesteros.
For now, there seems to be no easy solution for a feral cat problem the district says has been around for decades.
One problem, says Quesada, is well intentioned people on campus feeding the cats.
“Yes, yes, exactly. But, it is a bad situation for people and the cats,” he said.