Commissioners discuss properly regulating cat colonies


A colony of stray cats roam the yard of 402 N. Arnold on Tuesday, May 25.

Several yards in the Mount Pleasant city limits are filled with dozens of feral felines, known as cat colonies.

Mount Pleasant Assistant Fire Chief Doug Lobsinger said these colonies start when people feed stray cats causing them to stay in the area since there are enough resources for them all.

"This is causing some health and safety issues that impact the quality of living in these neighborhoods such as sanitary problems, aggressive feral cats and uncontrolled cat populations," Lobsinger said. "We're seeing some disease, sick, sick animals in some inhumane living conditions."

Lobsinger said, currently there is no authority that really addresses the issue since the zoning and code ordinances are not consistent. 

Police Chief Paul Lauria joined Lobsinger to meet with commissioners during to discuss cat colonies in Isabella County during its work session at the May 24 meeting.

The two officials took part in the commissions work session discussion on amendments to Chapter 10 and 91 regarding harboring of animals.

"What this ordinance amendment would do is make it real clear in the ordinance in the animal section of the ordinance that an individual property is limited to three cats and dogs," City Manager Nancy Ridley said.

Commissioners received a letter in support of the amendments from N. Arnold Street homeowners Tracy Collins and John Pfeiffer.

"I am overjoyed that, FINALLY, after working with several people at the city for at least 15 years to take care of the egregious cat problem in our neighborhood, I have recently been told that the city commission has before it a solution that will allow city workers to solve the 40+ cats being harbored in our neighborhood," the letter read. "I implore the city commission to make these amendments."

Ridley said at the next meeting commissioners will agree on a date for a public hearing for the amendments. After the public hearing is complete the commissioners will vote.

In addition to discussing cat colonies, the group received a presentation on the city's annual financial audit.

Commissioners received a presentation on the city's "2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report." 

Peter Haefner, partner at Vredeveld Haefner LLC., joined the virtual meeting to discuss the report with commissioners. 

The report was entirely prepared by city staff members, which Haefner said is very rare.

"We have approximately 5% of our governmental and non for profit clients prepare their own financial statements," Haefner said. "So that's quite an accomplishment and as you can see the document is very vast."