Catasauqua Press

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Catherine McCullough presents her arguments for allowing an increased capacity for a cat shelter she has been running for seven years at her home in Catasauqua. A zoning board ruling limits her to 10 sheltered cats in her home.PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMIL Catherine McCullough presents her arguments for allowing an increased capacity for a cat shelter she has been running for seven years at her home in Catasauqua. A zoning board ruling limits her to 10 sheltered cats in her home.PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMIL

Cats still limited to 10 at Catasauqua shelter

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

On Feb. 6, Catherine McCullough made an impassioned plea to keep her company, Feline Finish Line, operating in Catasauqua. She spoke at a Catasauqua Borough Council meeting.

McCullough talked about the history of the company, a nonprofit, and the 1,000 cats that have been adopted out during its seven years in existence.

In late 2015, someone reported her to Catasauqua Zoning Officer Eugene Goldfeder for operating a business out of her home in an area zoned residential. The situation escalated because McCullough ignored Goldfeder’s request for an explanation.

As she would later explain, no business was ever conducted at her house; she just kept cats there, she said. Adoptions took place at other locations. According to McCullough, the neighbors never complained, although one obviously did.

After some confrontations, McCullough went before the Catasauqua Zoning Hearing Board to apply for a variance that would allow her shelter to continue to operate. The zoning board allowed the business to continue as long as McCullough was there to manage it but added a restriction that only 10 cats are allowed, along with three pets.

McCullough reiterated in her plea the problem with uncontrolled breeding among stray felines.

“Cats have two litters a year with around three cats surviving. That’s 12 cats the first year, 66 cats the second year and 2,200 cats in the third year,” she said. “We do a favor for the borough by keeping the cat population under control.”

She asked for an increase in the number of cats allowed from the agreed 10 to 25. According to McCullough, and confirmed by her veterinarian, her house is modified to accommodate 25 cats. They stay in the house and are not roaming around outside.

Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker explained to McCullough the situation the borough is in.

“Based on your appeal, Judge [Brian] Johnson ruled that the settlement proposed by the zoning hearing board was fair and equitable,” he said. “As far as we are concerned, the case is closed and the decision confirmed. “It does not mean that council could not review the situation, but this matter is concluded.”

Council voted to follow the Court of Common Pleas judge’s ruling. In the vote, Councilwoman Jessica Kroope and Council President Vincent Smith voted no. The measure to uphold the judge’s ruling passed by a vote of 5 to 2.

McCullough has no firm plans on how to move forward but said she will discuss options with her attorney.

“I don’t understand why the borough has such a problem with what we do,” she said. “We keep the cat population under control and get the cats adopted out. Many towns are overrun by feral cats, and it takes a long time to decrease the population with trap, neuter and release or even rounding them up and putting them to sleep. We have a much more effective and humane way to deal with the problem.”