Freedom of speech is critical in any society that seeks a healthy citizenship. I’m not the only one who feels this way – it’s protected under the first amendment of the United States Constitution for a reason. Regardless of whether a person agrees with my position or not, I have never censored any-one’s comments on any media outlet from Sound Earth. Quite the opposite, I want people to engage in conversation.
That being said, the other day I opened my emails to three lengthy responses (from the same individual) to my TNR post. As I read through the first comment I had every intention of posting it even while my stomach was turning; by the third comment I realized it was more of a manifesto than a rational discussion on the most effective, and humane way to handle the feral cat crisis (and it is a crisis) in the US. I have chosen not to approve the comments.
There are certain points within the comments, however, I want to address. “X” claims that Oregon reports a .35% trap rate (there is no reference as to where this percentage was found), and this is among the best he was able to find on TNR advocate’s sites. I did a quick and easy google search and found that the San Diego Feral Cat Coalition boasts:
After 4 1/2 years we’ve been able to sterilize over 7000 cats. The county Dept. of Animal Control shelters report a decrease of almost 50% in cat impounds and euthanasias since the FCC was formed. Other local shelters report similar declines, sometimes complaining of a shortage of available kittens for adoption. The FCC method works! TNR vs Eradication, by Franny Syufi
Similar claims come from Michiana Feral Cat Initiative, and Alley Cat Allies. Both in the neighborhood of 47% success rate. However, this doesn’t acknowledge there are individuals, such as “X” that choose to shoot and kill all feral cats on their property – confirming that there are many feral cats that have not been documented in any way.
Another talking point in his comments:
The following link (of a study done by the University of Nebraska) is some good documentation on the most humane ways to confront a feral-cat problem where you live; including the best firearms, air-rifles, and ammo required. Though avoid using their suggested slow and inefficient trapping methods that got us into the ecological disaster that we have now.
I didn’t come to the same conclusion upon reading the study. In fact, I found it to be drastically flawed. Their opening sentence, for example: “Feral cats are domestic cats that have gone wild.” Not exactly. Cats don’t “go wild”. Cats are closer to their wild ancestry than any other domesticated animal, even your pet Fluffy. A feral cat is actually the offspring of strays that have lived their lives dodging humans in terror, digging through garbage, hunting for food and struggling for survival. They are wild animals; much like Mountain Lions, Bob Cats and Coyotes. They have specific territories and colonies. The difference between these animals is many generations ago humans found them desirable and began to transport them, breed them, and thus began the vicious cycle that continues today.
According to the American Bird Conservancy:
Millions of stray and feral cats roam our cities, suburbs, farmlands and natural areas. Abandoned by their owners or lost (stray), or descendants of strays and living in the wild (feral), these cats are victims of human irresponsibility due to abandonment and failure to spay or neuter pets. No one knows how many homeless cats there are in the U.S., but estimates range from 60 to 100 million. These cats lead short, miserable lives.
They also make the statement that hundreds of millions of birds, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks are killed by cats each year; pets, strays and ferals. I have no doubt this is true. Pets should remain indoors or strictly supervised when outdoors. They should always be spayed or neutered – there is no justifiable reason to allow a cat to reproduce when there are so many homeless cats killed every single day. I have a bit of a different reaction to the information offered by the ABC regarding ferals.
Ferals, like it or not, are now part of the food chain and have been for many, many generations. They have a role. How many times have you heard someone say their cat is a good mouser? Typically, humans find this an admirable trait. Ferals are mousers. They have to be to survive. Cats naturally hunt rats, mice and moles as well as birds and rabbits. They also provide food to animals higher on the food chain. As hard as it is to say, this is a reality of wild animals.
While it is true feral cats can spread disease, it is also true they are not the only wild animal to do so. It is not the cat that is responsible for this, it is the humans that dump their unwanted pets into the woods rather than do the right thing – these animals reproduce, and quickly. It is because humans continue to manipulate the natural cycle of the cat there remains the issues surrounding stray and feral cats.
There is no easy solution, that is for certain, but a good part of a solution is to get pets spayed and neutered! Additionally, there should be TNR programs in every community. Municipalities would serve their citizens well to assist in actively seeking to stop the reproductive cycle of feral cats.