Save the Neches River Cats


The Community Cats of Riverfront Park in Port Neches, TX: A Case for Humane Solutions

For several years, a community of feral and stray cats have called a remote area of Riverfront Park in Port Neches, Texas, their sanctuary. Volunteers and residents have been tending to and feeding this colony ever since its formation, without any significant issues. However, over time, the colony has expanded due to natural reproduction and an uptick in pet abandonment. As the caretakers found themselves increasingly overwhelmed, they reached out to our organization for help. Friends of Ferals stepped in during September 2022 and employed the humane and effective Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) strategy to manage the growing feline population. Since our involvement, we have sterilized and vaccinated nearly 50 of the park’s cats and successfully adopted out and/or transferred 34 approachable cats and kittens to no-kill shelters throughout Texas.

However, despite our targeted interventions, the City of Port Neches implemented a feeding ban ordinance for these community cats on July 20, 2023. The ban was put in place reportedly due to alleged, yet largely undocumented, complaints about health and sanitation, especially during public events in the park. While the city aims to disperse cats through this feeding ban, evidence suggests such measures are ineffective. Moreover, the ban overlooks the root issues contributing to the feline population: insufficient local resources for affordable spay and neuter services, and a lack of community education on responsible pet ownership, which includes spaying, neutering, vaccinating, and proper containment.

When we raised these points with city officials, our concerns were largely ignored. The city remains committed to removing the cats from the park and has even requested that Friends of Ferals assist in relocating them, a step we find to be both impractical and inhumane given the evidence against such actions.

Why Feeding Bans Don’t Work:

  • Counterproductive: Bans often push cats into residential areas, causing more complaints.
  • No Population Control: Cats will return once they find food, negating the ban’s purpose.
  • Ignores Root Causes: Bans sidestep the real issues, like pet abandonment, lack of affordable spay/neuter programs, and poor pet ownership education.

Benefits of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR):

  • Humane Treatment: Cats are trapped, neutered, and then returned to their habitat, avoiding unnecessary euthanasia.
  • Population Control: Spaying and neutering prevents the birth of new kittens, gradually reducing the colony’s size over time.
  • Disease Management: Neutered cats are also vaccinated against diseases, reducing the risk of spread.

Why Relocation is Ineffective:

  • The Vacuum Effect: When cats are removed from a location, new cats will inevitably move in to take advantage of the resources, making it a never-ending cycle.
  • Resource Intensive: Capturing and relocating cats takes significant time, money, effort and resources that could be better used in more effective and humane management strategies, such as TNR and comprehensive colony management.
  • Failure to Address the Root Cause: One of the most significant shortcomings of relocation is that it does not tackle the underlying issues leading to feral cat colonies, namely a lack of community education about the importance of spaying and neutering pets and pet abandonment. Simply removing cats from an area does not prevent people from abandoning more pets there in the future. Without education on responsible pet ownership and the implications of abandoning animals, the problem is likely to recur, making relocation a stop-gap measure rather than a long-term solution.

How Friends of Ferals Intends to Help 

In response to the city of Port Neches’ attempts to handle the Neches River Cats, Friends of Ferals is proposing to work together with the city to implement a comprehensive community cat management plan, specifically targeted at improving conditions in Riverfront Park.

Friends of Ferals aims to show that a thoughtful, humane approach to managing the cat population is not only ethical but also more effective in the long term. Their efforts stand in contrast to the inhumane, dangerous, and ineffective measures like feeding bans and relocation, offering the city a viable alternative that benefits both the feline and human residents.

Comprehensive Community Cat Management Plan for the City of Port Neches Presented by Friends of Ferals

Help Us Save the Neches River Cats

Call the Port Neches City Hall and Demand Humane Solutions 409-727-2181.
If you're a Port Neches Resident, please state it in your e-mail!

The Work We've Done

The Ordinance & City Council Meeting

Actions Taken by Friends of Ferals in Response to Ban

Media Coverage

Additional Resources

Stay Up To Date on the Latest News from Our Cause

Ways to Help

Friends of Ferals relies on the support of volunteers and donations from the community to carry out our mission. We are committed to providing the best possible care for feral and stray cats and making a positive impact in the Port Neches area.

Join Us

We are always looking for volunteers, sponsors, and community members who share our vision. If you’re interested in making a meaningful impact, we’d love to hear from you. Together, we can make a difference—one cat at a time.

For more information or to get involved, please Contact Us.