Cat colony controversy in Winchester

Published: Sep. 27, 2016 at 10:04 PM EDT
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One central Kentucky city is seeing a boom in its population, only it's not the human kind. Winchester has seen a city lot become overrun with felines. One woman is trying to help every single cat, on a daily basis, but some are concerned that a cat colony of its size has put the Clark County Animal Shelter in quite the dilemma.

Take one glance and you might miss it, an overgrown area that sits just behind a Winchester shopping center. Take a closer look and you will see what lurks about. Just steps from the backdoor of some businesses sits what has become a cat colony.

"Come here baby, yeah. I'm trying to make it so it's not so visible," said Ramona Baxter.

You could say Ramona Baxter is the keeper of the cats.

"I feed them every day rain, shine snow. We change out the straw twice a year," said Baxter.

She has made sure there is a shelter for the cats and even takes care of the cost of spaying and neutering the animals.

"It's heartbreaking because they are scared. Everybody says these are wild cats. There is not one wild one here. They are all drop offs," said Baxter.

As much as Ramona Baxter loves her cats she knows dumping them isn't right, she has a message to those who think that's the answer.

"If you can afford cigarettes and a tattoo, you can get your cat or dog fixed."

Despite Baxter's efforts to try and help, it's become a growing problem for the Director of the Clark County Animal Shelter.

"It's easy to drive by and see 25, so that means there is a least that much more hiding," said Adreanna Wills, Director Clark Co. Animal Shelter.

Adreanna Wills says she is well aware of the feline population in that location and gets complaints often.

"The issue with the specific colony you are referring to is that it's just in the public eye. There is a shopping center and people are in and out all the time and calling us wanting to know what's going on with this," said Wills.

Her hands, she says are tied. Right now there is no ordinance on the books in the city of Winchester dealing with stray or feral cats. Another problem, the cats have taken up residence on private property where the owner doesn't seem to mind.

"We can't go onto someone else's property and remove the animals, which is what a lot of people want us to do in this situation and we just aren't able to do that."

The solution isn't easy, the cat population isn't going away, but Wills says it's a conversation that needs to happen to find the best outcome for all the felines.

"In the end, something is going to have to give. These people have put a lot of work, money and time into caring for these cats and the last thing we want to see happen is all that destroyed."

Wills says there are advantages to having feral cats, but they can get out of control. We reached out to the Winchester City Manager who says they continue to work with policy, officials and citizens on the issue.

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