Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feral cats: is it "crazy" to care for them...or "crazy" to ignore them?

I deleted a diatribe from the comments by a gentleman who calls himself "Woodsman." I delete his comments because they are rude, not because of the questions they contain.

He sent a link to this article here, about an apartment complex whose expansion/renovation has been put on hold due to the presence of two-score of cats. It's an interesting article, and I have some sympathy for the landowner as I do for most landowners who have bought the "just leave them alone and they'll go away" line.

However, I've run into 70-year old rural homeowners who have bigger things to worry about who nonetheless realize there's an issue to be dealt with when they have ten cats running around. They pick up the phone and call for help. Someone who lets the numbers rack up to a hundred has pushed the envelope a bit. I've handled situations with 80-150 cats. The people involved aren't stupid by any means. It was just really low on their too-do list compared to other things that were taking up their time and money.


A) It appears from the article that the landowner has in fact received thousands of dollars in free cat control services. The population allegedly was over 100, and is now 20-35. Had the landowner taken responsibility and put the personal effort into trapping the cats originally (for the cost of traps, time, and gas), or hired a trapper (at probably $60-100 a cat), the cats would have been gone before any cat advocate moved into the picture. Had this landowner taken responsibility for the problem, the cats could have been removed. However, the problem appears to have been ignored until it reached the swarming level. Now that there is profit in the picture or at least needful maintenance (instead of just a nuisance: the status quo plus cats), and now that the problem is now more affordable/manageable (60-80 fewer cats than before) the landowner wants the cats gone.

B) The people who have actually taken on the task of managing the cats have invested thousands of dollars--dare I suggest over ten thousand dollars if you take into consideration the cost of caring for the adoptable cats until they found homes--of their own money, to reduce this nuisance and humane issue. The landowner has had the benefit of 60-80 fewer cats. That's a lot of cats, and a lot of money.

C) The decision is being made in the court system--a system upon which legal decisions in this country are commonly made.

The deleted comment on this blog said in part "This is precisely why everyone is learning to destroy all cats on their properties as quickly and quietly as possible. Telling nobody beforehand about the cats even being there."

The fact is, landowners don't take this upon themselves which is why there is a problem to begin with. It takes money and work--money and work the landowner did not care to invest when the problem started. If a landowner notes a cat or two upon his property and traps and takes them off to a shelter, chances are pretty good no one would notice. However, landowners ignore the problem until there are scads of cats---which is why TNR got its start to begin with.

The solution many anti-cat people offer for cat control-- "Just don't feed the cats" -- actually causes the problem of growing cat numbers. They don't trap them. They don't kill them. They just want them to magically go away.

Then there's the "just shoot 'em" suggestion. While the commenter likes to boast about how many cats he kills, the fact is that most landowners want someone else to do the dirty deed, or they are in an area where they can't discharge firearms. So it's useless to suggest that anyone with a cat problem should just pull out a .22. The majority of so-called nuisance cats are in residential areas. There wouldn't be a nuisance wildlife control industry if people HAD .22's, let alone knew how to shoot them, or lived in an area where they could shoot them. In NYS a landowner can shoot a common wild critter that is causing damage, yet most don't. They open their wallets to have someone else do it with traps, catchpoles, or exclusion devices.

If the commenter attended cat control conferences, like the recent Outdoor Cat conference, he might learn that in fact cat management programs are multi-tiered. Cats in some areas may in fact have to be removed, while others can remain (sterilized). Just like nuisance wildlife control, one has to look in one's toolbox and choose the tool that is best suited for the situation, given the resources available.

There certainly are people who "shoot, shovel, and shut up" but they do so with the awareness that they are breaking the law, and they keep their heads down. There is a reason "Woodsman" won't use his own name, and that's because there would be a knock or two on his door if he did.

We aren't going to manage a few million cats via a the one or two people per community who are willing to slink around shooting cats.

So to landowners who don't like cats, please do go ahead catch that friendly stray as soon as she shows up and take her to a shelter if your only other option is to ignore the cat. (Please check with the shelter in advance to be sure they accept cats) Maybe she will find her way back to her owner or into a new home. But if the landowner ignores that stray because "it's not his problem" and lets that cat and those that follow her breed into a hundred shy and feral cats, he should not be surprised if someone else notices them, puts out some food, and starts shelling out their own bucks to try to solve the problem in a humane way that doesn't involve dumping 100 cats on the local underfunded shelter.

Please keep comments civil and to the topic of cat management, thanks!

Update: I note on Facebook that Stray Cat Alliance is trying to find placement of at least some of their cats, so they are not sitting on their hands counting on the courts to support them. They are trying to get the cats to a safer place without the need for them to go to a shelter.

No comments:

Post a Comment