Rabid kitten bite sparks feral cat debate in Mercer Co.

Feline aficionados and health officials in Mercer County are facing off on whether feral cats should be allowed to roam free if they're spayed or neutered.

A Tuesday Board of Health public meeting focused on the merits and disadvantages of trapping, fixing and releasing feral cats. The hot topic came to a boiling point in recent months after a woman was bitten by a rabid feral kitten.

Several nearby communities, including six in Burlington County, practice "trap, neuter and release" programs. Ewing officials say re-releasing the animals still poses a health risk.

Cat lover Roberta Macintosh is a resident who cares for what she calls "secret cat colonies." She says she and others do what they can to keep them out of sight.

"Most colony caretakers try to hide their colonies so that people that are unhappy with animals don't do nasty things to them," she says.

In addition to feeding the strays, Macintosh traps cats in order to have them spayed and neutered. She then releases them, paying for all expenses out of her own pockets.

Macintosh says she can't bare the thought of euthanasia, the alternative to "T-N-R."

"It's not kind," she says.

Ewing officials however maintain there is no room in the township for the feral feline population.

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