Feral Cats - Society's Problem Children
There is a lot of talk going on about what to do with the
issue of feral cat population.
Some measures have been proposed which will allow residents to
kill what they perceive to be feral cats on their property. This
suggestion has caused a bit of a stir, and amongst cat lovers, it
is quite understandable. Cats are natural wanderers and a
treasured feline may make a mischievous dash out of its home only
to find itself hunted quarry in a neighboring property.
There are more humane solutions being practiced right now
which entail trapping feral cats, neutering and then releasing
them back to their environment (TNR). Critics of this method
maintain that the problem of cat predation on local small animal
populations still exists after neutering, and that a continuous
supply of stray cats are finding their fertile way into these
feral communities every day. Thus, any positive gains realized by
the TNR program are being constantly negated by the actions, or
inactions, of irresponsible pet owners.
There doesn't appear to be any immediate, cut and dry solution
to feral cats except to keep employing the TNR program and
educating the public about how to be accountable for their cats.
Local laws can be enacted to impose fines on owners whose cats
are caught wandering on a frequent basis. Social pressure can be
fostered in the form of campaigns that suggest it is absolutely
not cool and downright irresponsible to have unneutered or
unspayed cats wandering around. This, of course, would not be
applied to owners of show and working cats where planned breeding
is necessary for their specific breed.
It comes down to the fact that over 64% of U.S. households
have pets, and the majority of these pets are considered as
family members. Cats are the rebellious, independent members of
the family unit. They shouldn't be left to their own devices nor
should they be discarded like disposable lighters. Similar to any
wayward teenager of a family, special measures and tolerances
have to be adopted in order to get the loved ones through a
difficult time in their lives and bring them back into the fold
of family unity. Cats are a bit different in that they are
"wayward children" for life, however, they can be conditioned to
accept a house-bound lifestyle. Having them spayed or neutered
(we're talking about cats now - not teenagers) will help temper
their wanderlust a little, and there are some great outdoor
"playpens" and containment equipment designed just for the
benefit of felines. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash
for nightly jaunts, however, that may not be particularly healthy
for you or the cat if there are too many unleashed dogs in the
Do what you can to help alleviate the problem of cats turning
feral. The animal welfare organizations and volunteers are doing
what they can to deal with the current populations by using TNR,
rescuing and adopting of cats. But the flow of new, fertile,
domestic cats into the feral communities must be stopped at the
family, neighborhood and regional level. This is accomplished
through public awareness campaigns, teaching school children
about responsible pet ownership, social pressure and individual
involvement. It's a long uphill road, yet it can be accomplished,
one or two kitties at a time.
Cris Mandelin-Wood owns several websites covering domestic
animals as well as Web information services and products. Animal
welfare issues are of special interest. To sign up for the
monthly Critterbytes Ezine, go to http://shelters.theanimalnet.com
and select the state you live in. Once there you will find a
listing of local animal welfare organizations and a sign up box
for the ezine.
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