OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials this week agreed to provide support for a coalition of private sector groups in the interest of better controlling a growing stray or feral cat crisis in the resort.

On Tuesday, the Ocean City Mayor and Council agreed to support the Community Cats Coalition and its partners, Delmarva Cat Connection and Town Cats, in an effort to get a handle on the growing stray or feral cat problem in the resort. Community Cats Coalition spokeswoman Susan Coleman told the town’s elected officials the stray and feral cat population in the resort continues to soar and advised them of the relatively new program to humanely and safely curtail the population growth while allowing the town’s cats to remain in their colonies.

Coleman explained her agency’s ongoing partnership with Delmarva Cat Connection and Town Cats, along with the OCPD’s Animal Control officers, the Humane Society and private sector volunteers to implement a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. Under the TNR program, stray and feral are humanely trapped, taken to a vet to be vaccinated, spayed or neutered and then returned to the same areas.

“Stray and feral cats are the product of human mistreatment,” she said. “Owned cats are often abandoned and those that are not neutered produce litters of untamable kittens. Unaddressed, the process continues and seems unstoppable. We have a stray and feral cat population crisis, but this program is already achieving the desired results.”

Coleman explained that the partnering agencies have already handled 359 stray or feral cats. As a result, there has already been a stabilization of the resident cat population and the number of citizen complaints has gone down in kind.  She said the coalition is looking to form an alliance with Ocean City to utilize the town’s resources to get the word out.

“We want this to be an ongoing and long-term solution,” she said. “We’re not asking for any funding, but the summer residents and visitors don’t know about us. We’d like to partner with the town to help get the word out, through signs or literature on the Boardwalk, to access to the town’s website.”

City officials embraced the idea, especially since no financial commitment is needed.

“That’s quite a big step already to get everybody working together,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “We’d be happy to work with you and let you continue to do the good work you do. It’s very important to our community.”