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ABC-7 Xtra examines El Paso’s feral cat problem

EL PASO, Texas -- Not everyone is a cat lover. In fact, several El Pasoans have recently been charged with animal cruelty for going after the four-legged furry feral cats with the intent to hurt, and sometimes kill them.

To be clear, the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat is a stray cat is domesticated and wanders away from its owner. A feral cat, also known as a community cat, is a feline that lives in the wild and cannot be domesticated.

Feral cats do not like contact with humans, and some humans, as we recently learned, do not like feral cats. Some El Pasoans have in fact either been accused of poisoning them, or have gone as far as to shoot them with an air rifle.

On Sunday night, feral cat advocacy groups tell ABC-7 Xtra host Saul Saenz that feral cat populations can be controlled without killing them.

In late May, 48-year-old Shawn Michael Hanke, an El Paso firefighter, was arrested and accused of poisoning his neighbor's cats. Hanke was charged with animal cruelty.

Then as recently as this past week, police arrested 68-year-old Robert Lee Ramirez and also charged him with animal cruelty. Police say he killed two cats on Oct. 12 on Lake Erie Drive, not far from George Dieter and Montwood. He's accused of taking an air rifle and shooting cats.

In that east El Paso neighborhood, they all seem to agree on two things: There is a feral cat population explosion in their neighborhood - but shooting and killing cats is not the answer.

Representatives from the Humane Society, as well as El Paso Animal Services sit down to say the best way to control the feral cat population, is the take an active role in spaying or neutering them. Find out how Sunday night on ABC-7 Xtra Sunday edition.

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.



  1. As long as the City allows cat’s to roam free and unlicensed the good people at the Humane Society know good and well there is nothing you can do to stop the cat’s from spraying your vehicle and using your yard for a toilet. The kind hearted folks in the neighbor compound the problem by putting food out for them. Don’t hold your breath waiting on the “Leaders” to do anything about it either

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