The city of Jefferson has come up with a solution that involves shooting cats to control the population.
There are multiple feral cat colonies in the central Iowa town, and the city claims shooting the animals is its only option.
"Cats don't belong outside," Jefferson City Councilman Matt Wetrich said. "There's research showing hundreds of millions of birds in the U.S. alone."
Wetrich is a naturalist by trade and knows what feral cats do to an ecosystem. But he also knows the attachment so many people have to the furry creatures, which is why he admits the city's policy of shooting some feral cats doesn't sit right with a lot of people.
"I think the issue with the idea of shooting a cat is tough in the fact that it seems violent because we think of shooting as violence, and that's an entirely reasonable thought," he said. "I think that's a pretty natural reaction."
Wetrich said it's not something the city's police officers want to do, but he said there aren't other options. He said officers only shoot cats that appear to be wild and uncared for.
But Josh Colvin, with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, said it needs to stop.
"There are best practices out there, and this definitely is not," Colvin said.
The Animal Rescue League is working with Jefferson city officials to come up with better solutions, such as trapping, neutering and returning cats into the wild, or more humane forms of euthanasia.
"There's definitely so many different alternatives for this type of behavior, shooting cats," Colvin said. "There's no reason for it, no reason that (it) needs to happen."
Wetrich said the city is looking at a temporary unit to house up to 30 cats and is trying to raise money to build a new animal shelter.
The city plans to take its time on the issue, though, and look at what other Iowa communities are doing when it comes to changes in their cat ordinances.