Pearl City schools plagued by potential feline-related health hazard

Feral cats are a problem in many neighborhoods.

In Pearl City, two schools dealing with the issue are asking for help.

Pearl City High School is reaching out to the community for help controlling the population of feral cats that call the school grounds home.

The school has been dealing with a population of feral cats for at least the last 10 years. Administrators say they’re working with multiple organizations to control the cat population, but some in the community ignore the signs warning not to feed the cats on campus.

Just before dark at Pearl City High School, when the students and teachers are long gone, the cats come out.

Pearl City principal Joseph Halfmann says dealing with the cats has been a challenge.

“It’s been an ongoing problem for about 10 years. We have a lot of community members who will walk through campus and sometimes some community members will stop and feed the cats,” he said.

The feral cats at Pearl City come from around the surrounding neighborhoods and outside the boundaries of the school.

Halfmann says it’s been a challenge figuring out how to deal with the growing cat population.

“There have been times where custodians are needing to clean up after what has occurred overnight to make sure the campus is prepared for our students,” he said. “I believe that the elementary school has had to not use the field on occasion because of the amount of mess that’s left behind. So it is definitely a real concern and the main thing is we want to make sure students are able to focus and be safe when they are at recess or when they’re out around campus. They don’t have to be distracted by unsanitary conditions.”

The school set up signs asking people not to feed the cats on campus grounds, but food piles can still be seen at night.

Experts say this method of feeding cats can contribute to the problem, rather then help to solve it.

Halfmann says Pearl City High School in the past has used traps to capture, spay and neuter the cats.

“We ask that they don’t mess with the traps or vandalize the traps, and to understand that it is really about sanitary conditions for our students, and we would appreciate their support in helping us maintain a safe and orderly environment for students,” he said.

If someone is caught feeding the cats on campus they can be cited, or arrested for trespassing.

The school says it wants to continue to work with the community to try and solve the problem.

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