A feral-feline colony that’s roamed the streets in the Lower Haight for decades has drawn complaints, but neighbors say it’s not fair to blame a local cat lady.
An anonymous complainer recently pinned the overpopulation on a woman who has several cats of her own at her home near Haight and Fillmore streets, but she’s actually helped spay and neuter the feral ones.
“I don’t think that she has anything to do with it,” said Thea Selby, president of the Lower Haight Merchant Neighbor Association. “But for some reason, someone was blaming her.”
Neighbors say the woman, who would not comment, does lure strays to her backyard by supplying food and summoning them at night. However, the neighbors also say the cats will wander regardless, and the woman uses the nonprofit San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to get them spayed and neutered.
In 1993, the SPCA started offering free fixes for feral cats to help control their breeding. Now, the organization fixes about 1,000 of them every year, a number that has actually decreased, SPCA spokeswoman Tina Ahn said.
“That should make sense, though. That’s why we have the program,” Ahn said. “They’re really all over The City, not just in the Lower Haight.’’
If they are kittens or domesticated, the SPCA will try to put them up for adoption. Right now, it has more than 200 ready for a home.
Selby, who has lived in the neighborhood about 11 years, said the feline gang has strolled the Lower Haight for as long as she can remember. She said she spots one or two of them in her yard every day — one she named Fat Mitsy — but never thought to fault the local cat lady.
Another neighbor who helps the cat lady capture the felines has lived near Haight and Fillmore streets for 20 years and pushes her efforts a step further.
In the past two years, Patricia McFee said she’s domesticated at least five of the cats she’s captured by smothering them with love in her own home so the SPCA will put them up for adoption instead of releasing them back into the wild.
“Complaining is easy. Offering help is much more effective,” McFee said. “Feral colonies are a fact of life anywhere. Education and a willingness to help is what is most effective.”
The SPCA provides free traps for feral cats. Residents can capture them and bring them to the SPCA, which spays and neuters for free.
Borrow a trap: (415) 522-3539.
Drop off cats: 7:30 to 8 a.m.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
Leanne Roberts Animal Care Center, 220 Florida St.
Details: Cats must be at least 2 pounds or 2 months old
Source: San Francisco SPCA