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Hi Shawn, Although my views are inflexible on feral cats (read elsewhere) house cats can be a difficult thing to control. Most cats would not take to being on a leash, cats are far more independent than dogs, so that won't work. Cats are also prone to "slipping out", a door opened to get the mail for instance. Also, depending on where you live, dogs may indeed roam the neighborhood, though not necessarily legally. (I'm in a city of 500,000 people, no small town, and the city and metro area are 1.5 Million). Usually, dogs that don't cause problems fall under the radar. For house cats, sterilization is hopefully done with significant numbers, so that's hopeful. I have a neighbor that traps something or other, I think he tries for Ground Hogs. One year he trapped a cat, and there it sat, in the sun, would have cooked to death eventually. Here I am, minding my business, and my wife comes in, very angry. I told her to call the Humane Society or other animal control group in our area. I was astonished that they refused to do anything. So, there I go, traipsing across the neighbor's property, and let the cat go. Also let a squirrel go under similar circumstances. Hopefully the neighbor doesn't have a camera. Oh, and by the by, released squirrels travel somewhat faster than the speed of light, sheesh, don't stand in front of the cage. But I digress. Despite the possible (or probable) destructiveness of house cats, I don't believe that this is a perfect world, the goal of the elimination of feral cats would satisfy me. I could not, under any circumstances, trap for euthanasia or have anything to do with killing a neighbor’s pet cat or any cat I suspect to be someone’s pet (ergo the cat released from the neighbor's trap). It just doesn’t work for me. For the purists out there that noticed I ventured onto my neighbors property, I used to have fruit trees that he would spray with pesticide because he didn't like the ants that occupied it. Not a good thing and done without my awareness. Apparently he felt that what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me. Again, life is not a perfect thing. Hopefully if he ever catches me releasing something he'll remember the beam in his own eye. (If anyone is confused, look up Mote and Beam in eye).
There isn't really much to debate on the issue. Feral cats are a problem in some areas of the country. Our neighbor mercifully fed a pregnant feral cat (our neighbor is a cat owner as well, but her cats are kept in the house), and the cat took up residence below her deck. The kittens were adorable. We watched them grow and now they are having kittens. We never supported her feeding them, but we felt our hands were tied. Of course, the kittens as adults seem to gravitate around the neighbor's house, and now, unfortunately, ours as well. As Birders, the problem is we are seeing increasing numbers of dead birds that have been mauled by the cats, some of which are dragged under our shed and porch and left to rot and cat urine is sprayed on our property by pets we don't own (our yard is fenced, our dog is prevented from doing similar salutes to the neighbor's property). The borough hunts down Raccoons and other vermin with a vengeance, but turns a blind eye to the problems with an exponentially growing cat population. Hell, the Raccoons have more of a right to be here than the cats, at least they're indigenous to our area. This misplaced animal rights stuff has got to come to an end. The wild animals have more of a right to an unmolested existence than domestic animals gone feral. I used to keep Tarantulas, and have a great fondness for most types of spiders, most of which I would never kill (many have been sequestered by my wife under a clear glass and allowed to remain imprisoned until I get home, whereupon I slowly slip a piece of paper under the glass, pick-up the entire thing and transport the offending individual outside, providing they are not house spiders, which are released in a more obscure section of the house). My point is that, despite the known benefits of spiders, very few people give smashing them a moments thought. Why have cats been apotheosized? It's because they are cute, they are furry, and in domesticated cats they are downright fun to own. But feral cats are not domesticated cats. We should give due regard to all life forms in proportion to their benefit/risk. I would not hesitate, in domestic situations, to smash a Black Widow spider if I came across one, nor a False Widow, nor a Yellow Sac Spider. Their benefits, eating of insects, is outweighed buy their risk to human health. We need to consider the same with feral cats, only extend the concern onto the benefits and risks to other animals that frequent our property. Lastly, imagine dogs gone feral that roam that neighborhoods and live by killing and eating feral cats, maybe with some emphasis on just killing the kittens and feral cats suffering from aging or illnesses, temporary or otherwise. Do cat people honestly think they would not want something done to stop this outrageous behavior. Why is the destruction of birds by cats any different?
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May 20, 2013