SEASIDE HEIGHTS - A group of animal activists are at odds with Seaside Heights borough officials over a situation involving the feral cat population.

The mayor and borough council recently unanimously voted to dissolve a group that cared for the cats. That group was responsible for trapping, neutering and then releasing the animals, as well as giving them food and shelter.

Many of the cats lived under the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

“The cats are helping to keep any rats and mice away from the boardwalk. They are here to keep it clean. As far as I know all of these cats have had shots,” says boardwalk business owner Joe Franzi.

Franzi is one of 4,000 people who have signed an online petition to make Seaside Heights officials reinstate the group that was caring for the cats.

But Mayor Tony Vaz said that he and the council had no choice but to disband the organization. He said that he wanted to relocate the cats because he received many complaints about foul odors, soiled properties and the potential for disease.

Vaz says that the borough is establishing an advisory committee of three residents, a business owner and the business administrator to come up with a plan to move the animals.

“We’ve actually been accused of killing cats, trapping them and killing them, which is not true at all,” Vaz says.

The mayor also says that contrary to what the online petition says, the stray cats will continue to be fed.

The president of the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization tells News 12 New Jersey that she's hoping the mayor and council will see how many thousands of people support the group and reinstate it.