GRANTS PASS, Ore.– A local Grants Pass man was arrested on Sunday after he admitted to police he had been trapping cats in his neighborhood and dropping them off at a rest stop near I-5. Unfortunately, some of the cats he captured belonged to residents.
The “cat-napper,” 71-year-old John Frederick Watson, was arrested and jailed for a day on two counts of 1st degree theft after a nearby resident found out he had trapped two of her cats. The resident, Laurinda Sells, contacted Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, who reached out to Watson for questioning.
During that time Watson admitted to officers that he was catching cats in his neighborhood on SW I Street because he was tired of cats defecating in his yard. He told officers he was dropping cats off at the Manzanita Rest Area 14 miles away. However, for the owner of the cats that were taken, she says she has a hard time believing that.
“I don’t know that he actually dumped them. That’s the problem, he says he dumped them but how do we know he dumped them,” said Laurinda Sells.
Sells says that along with her two cats, several others were taken as well. She believes maybe up to seven or eight cats total, with possibly more than half belonging to households in the area. While there are plenty of feral cats in the neighborhood that come by, hers were different she said.
“He can’t fend for himself, he’s not like a normal cat,” she said describing one of her cats. “It’s kind of funny saying it but he’s not like a normal cat. He doesn’t hunt, you never saw him killing anything or having anything.”
While some are calling Watson’s alleged method extreme, some other residents in the neighborhood say that feral cats in the area are becoming a nuisance.
“Our garbage gets destroyed every night,” said Becky Gray. “Every night if there’s any garbage in the front of our house, in trash bags, it’s gonna get opened up and strung out and we’re having to clean it up.”
Gray believes many of the feral cats were left behind from people moving away and some were simply never fixed.
“It’s just not very fair to animals and it’s sure not fair to us neighbors,” she said.
Gray says she understands why someone might trap the cats but people should also understand – it’s not the cats fault.
“Animals that no longer have anywhere to go to be fed so they just kind of roam around and what do we expect?” said Gray. “Shame on them, people, not the cats.”
Still, for Sells it doesn’t change the fact that she might not see her two cats again. She says she didn’t want Watson to get arrested for his actions though. She simply wanted him to get a ticket and perhaps a fine.
But she admits as well, the feral cat situation is bad in their area and it’s been hard to keep up as new kittens keep sprouting up every year. Residents hope that for anyone planning on leaving the area for good, either drop their cats off at shelters, give them to neighbors or at the very least, spay and neuter them before going.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.