SOUTH PITTSBURG, TN. (WRCB) - One Marion County town is overrun by hundreds of stray and feral cats damaging personal property. Now, officials in South Pittsburg are considering a new way to tackle the problem.  

Mayor Jane Dawkins hopes South Pittsburg finds the solution that will help the whole county with cat overpopulation. She says it's gotten so bad, some cats are damaging people's homes and cars in some cases. A volunteer animal group came up with a possible plan, she thinks could work.

It didn't take long for Channel 3's camera to find stray cats running around South Pittsburgh on roofs, in trees, and even one outside city hall.

"We feel like it's to the magnitude we need to address it," South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins says.

Some residents complain they've become a costly nuisance.

"It's destruction of property. They'll get under your house, they'll tear out installation. They're getting all over cars. They scratch them when they come down," Dawkins says.

Marion County doesn't have a humane society, just a pound that keeps animals short term, and euthanizes them if they go unclaimed.

"You can't keep up. It's not a long term fix," Dawkins says.

That's because the euthanized cats' off-spring are already off making more kittens and the cycle continues.

"It's like a pyramid. One cat can create thousands of kittens," Marion Animal Rescue Connection Director Sue Scruggs says.

The volunteer group, Marion Animal Rescue Connection or MARC, is trying to adopt off the non-feral stray cats, but they approached the city commission with an idea: trap the feral cats, neuter them, then return them back to their colonies.

"If you don't take them back to where they were, other cats from outside your area will soon come into that area, because there's something good there for the cats," Scruggs says.

But, trapping feral cats is the hard part.

"Some of the cats are very nasty. I mean, they're scary. It's a massive problem to just do single handedly as a small police department in South Pittsburg," Scruggs says.

"Police have told me they feel we have hundreds possibly," Dawkins says.

So they're looking to partner with experts in Chattanooga. The Cat Clinic would trap and release them and Wally's Friends would spay and neuter. They still have to meet to determine what the program would cost the city.
If the trap, neuter and return program is approved by the city commission, they say, they'll need lots of volunteers.

Mayor Dawkins is also a Marion County Commissioner.

She hopes if it works, surrounding towns will get on board, too.

If you're interested in adopting, fostering or learning more information about how you can help, visit the Marion Animal Resource Center by clicking here.