Litter concerns dog cat colony

The future of a colony of cats in Front Royal dating back several decades is the subject of a community meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department, 221 Commerce Ave.

Generations of cats have been cared for along the Riverton Landing on the west bank of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Lisa Marie Dorman, one of those who have been providing the cats with food over the years, said the meeting was called to discuss possible solutions for deteriorating conditions at the site.

The cats have been at the site a long time, but Dorman said removal to another area is one of the ideas on the table.

“We’re all going to have to come to a happy medium over the cats,” Dorman said. “I’m hoping they get to stay, and maybe we don’t have to move them, but if we have to move them, that’s what we’ll do.”

Dorman, a resident of Markum, said she got involved in caring for the cats, most or all of them abandoned by former owners, through Webb Davis, a man who says he has been tending to them for more than 30 years.

Davis, 84, used to operate an asphalt plant nearby. A lone, single cat he saw one day led him to begin taking care of hundreds more over the years.

“Some were hungry, and I just went by, and I just couldn’t stand for an animal to be hungry,” Davis said.

Davis estimates he cares for about 60 cats a day, although at one time the colony reached a population of 125. He attributes the drop in the population to vehicles running over some of the cats and others dying of old age.

Davis said he goes through “somewhere around” 80 cans of cat food a day, plus dry food, both of which he buys from a pet store in Winchester.

“I feed them dry food and canned food,” Davis said, adding that cats, like humans, want some variety in what they eat.

“I give them their choice,” Davis said.

Dorman said growing concern over the physical appearance of the colony is the reason why the meeting has been called. “More litter is being left in the area, some of it from empty bowls used to feed the cats. Fishermen leaving debris along the riverbank may be another source of the problem,” Dorman said.

The cat colony wouldn’t be a problem if owners took the proper steps to prevent them from reproducing, Dorman said.

“We need to come together as a community and help get as many of them spayed and neutered so we can cut these populations down,” Dorman said. “Instead of complaining about them being out there, let’s start coming up with a solution to make it less.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com