CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston city council members want to create an annual tax on cat ownership under a proposed plan that would also require a feline registry.
The plan, which was discussed Monday night, would require an annual $3 tax per cat and would limit only two cats per household. Members would first have to draft an ordinance to go before council for a vote.
The city's overpopulated cat problem became a topic last month when City Councilman Cubert Smith said there are stray and feral cats running wild in his neighborhood.
Bobby Reishman, chairman of the city's Finance Committee, suggested expanding the existing dog ordinance to include cats. The dog ordinance also limits canines to two per house and $3 per dog annually.
Smith, whose ward covers mostly hilly areas above the East End, said that one house in his neighborhood has more than 50 cats.
Two residents from Smith's ward spoke before the meeting urging council members to adopt cat ordinances similar to St. Albans and South Charleston, which limit ownership to two cats.
Mayor Danny Jones questioned which agency would police a cat ordinance.
Building Commissioner Tony Harmon said Kanawha County could become involved if safety concerns arise from the number of cats outside someone's home. Once the problem moves indoors, it falls on the homeowner, he said.
Charleston's animal control officers are aware of the house in Smith's ward and are working to clear out the stray and feral animals, Harmon said.
Jones asked how many finance committee members have registered their dogs.