Sunday, November 16, 2008
Nov. 16 is Nat'l Feral Cat Day, Reprised
Rocky and Spring, killed July 2008
I missed National Feral Cat Day, but managed to catch up only a month behind. Here's an article from a Nevada newspaper which discusses in part why it is NOT a good idea to trap a feral cat and take it to a shelter. (It will be killed.) Better, have the cat fixed and return it to its life in the wild. Read on
The truth about cats in your neighborhood
By Bonney Brown
Cats have been living alongside humans for 9,500 years. They hung out with the Vikings, chasing off mice and keeping people company.
They were prized in ancient Egypt for their ability to kill snakes and keep rodents at bay. Ultimately, cats attained an elevated place in Egyptian society embodied in Bastet, the cat goddess. In Japan, the Maneki Neko (lucky cat) beckons good fortune and wealth.
During the Middle Ages the tide turned against cats for a while. They were killed en masse and, as mice bred unchecked, the bubonic plague flourished.
Today, cats are rapidly becoming the most popular pet, overtaking dogs in numbers. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are 82 million pet cats and 72 million dogs in the U.S.
But cats are not just little dogs, they have different needs and a different place in our communities.
When they are abandoned, some cats are able to adapt and reproduce, which has led to a population of feral cats in most communities. Kittens (or puppies, for that matter) raised without human contact develop a natural fear of humans, not unlike squirrels or other wild animals. Feral cats often live together in small groups called colonies, and unless spayed or neutered, their numbers grow.
“Feral cats are part of our community — they are not homeless, but live outdoors in colonies in their home territory,” said Dr. Diana Lucree, a local veterinarian. Lucree is one of the founders of Community Cats, a nonprofit group that has been promoting the humane management of the feral cat population through Trap-Neuter-Return in Washoe County since 2003. Lucree has personally spayed and neutered nearly 8,000 feral cats at no cost to their caregivers.
The best thing we can do for outdoor cats, both for their own well-being and to prevent the birth of more kittens, is to get the cats neutered or spayed. Once they are fixed, they can return to their home turf where they live out their lives.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is widely recognized as the most humane and effective strategy for reducing feral cat populations. It involves humanely trapping feral or stray cats and getting them spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
Then the cat is returned back to his colony, where he will live out his natural life. Since the cats are no longer reproducing, the colony will gradually diminish in size. Neutering also reduces or eliminates mating, fighting, and wandering which makes the colony more stable, reduces the number of newcomers, and improves the health of the cats.
Generally, because feral cats are unsocialized, they do not make good pets and don’t adapt well to life in a human home. Relocating them to another area is challenging. Therefore, if feral cats are taken to traditional animal control shelters instead of being neutered and retuned, they will most likely be killed.
Trapping and removing them is only a temporary fix at best. It opens up an ecological void that more un-neutered cats will eventually fill, starting the breeding process all over again. The trap and remove method is an endless cycle of breeding and killing while TNR is a lifesaving, permanent solution.
TNR is so much more popular and effective than old lethal control methods that research conducted by Alley Cat Allies found more than 16 million Americans are feeding and caring for outdoor cats. One of their recent surveys found that 81 percent of respondents preferred a TNR program over trapping and killing strays.
To recognize all the kind people who help cats, and the intrinsic value these cats add to our communities, Oct. 16 has been dubbed National Feral Cat Day. To learn more about feral cats and National Feral Cat Day, visit the Alley Cat Allies Web site at www.alleycat.org