Strong passions emerge from both sides of the issues concerning free-roaming cats. Myths, misunderstandings and controversies can obstruct progress and interfere with the humane care of these cats. Learn what is true, what we donít really know and discover some new perspectives on some old theories.
Are community and feral-behaving cats suffering? Consider this: Think of an animal that finds shelter, finds food, avoids people, avoids or fights off predators and is more likely to die from natural causes than by euthanasia at a veterinarian. Did you think of a free-roaming cat? Or did you think of a squirrel, raccoon, bald eagle or white-tailed deer? If living under these circumstances is inhumane, then one could argue that all wildlife is suffering. Simply because free-roaming cats have tame ancestors, does not mean they do not deserve to live or that their quality of life should be held to a higher standard.
The double standard Many people and organizations set a different standard for free-roaming cats than for other animals. They argue that any cat is better off dead than living a natural outdoor lifestyle. For example, they contend that a car may hit a free-roaming cat during its lifetime, therefore, a more humane approach is to trap and kill the cat before that happens. If we expand that logic, we would need to kill every bird, mammal, fish, and insect Ė basically all life forms, to spare them the suffering of a natural lifestyle. Why kill an animal living a natural lifestyle simply because it isnít living a lifestyle with people?
Is Human companionship essential to quality of life? Some people and "humane" organizations argue that any free-roaming cat without a human home should be euthanized, regardless of health. We emphatically disagree. Simply because a cat came from a tame ancestor is no evidence that human companionship is necessary for a humane quality of life. Lack of human contact or living without access to the inside of a human home is not justification for euthanasia.
Do free-roaming cats decimate wildlife and bird populations? Like so many issues, there are many studies with many conclusions. The inarguable reality is that people, not cats, have most significantly damaged the environment, habitats and ecosystems and have done far more to endanger and eliminate bird species and wildlife. Even at its worst imagined, the effect of cats on wildlife and bird populations is minute compared to the effect of people. To view the Top 100 most destructive species, go to Defenders of Wildlife at www.defenders.org.
What is the population potential for one female cat? Female cats will often have their first litter at six months of age - just babies themselves! Left intact, cats will generally have 2 - 3 litterís per year. Litters vary in size, ranging from just a couple to nine. Consider this: if you are feeding just one female cat, in spring she will have her first litter of, say, four kittens (two male and two female). Before her first litter is three months old, she will be pregnant again. Now it's summer and you have a momma, the four kittens from her first litter and four from her second litter. As summer winds down, the two females from the first litter have four each of their own. When fall comes, the original female cat has yet another litter with four more kittens. In this conservative scenario, you have gone from feeding one cat to feeding 17! But I always find "good" homes for the kittens.. Although giving away kittens sounds like a good idea, it is quite the opposite. For every kitten you give away, a kitten from the animal control is not adopted and will be euthanized. And do you really know you have found a "good" home? If that cat goes on to have a litter of it's own, you have really done more harm than good. Then there are the kittens that end up being fed to snakes (because free kittens are less expensive than rodents) and the ones used as bait for fighting dogs. Are free-roaming cats reservoirs of diseases? A large-scale study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association proves otherwise. Rates of common, infectious diseases were similar in pet cats and free-roaming cats. In some cases, pet cats had higher disease rates than free-roaming cats. Because Mother Nature selects the healthiest animals, it is perfectly logical that free-roaming cats are very healthy.
Feral behaving cats are vicious and mean From a feral-behaving catís point of view, they are the potential prey and people are predators. A healthy community cat will not stalk and attack a person. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Cats remain quiet and hide from view or run when unfamiliar people approach. However, if provoked or given a chance to escape, a free-roaming cat puts all its energy into defense. The cat understandably risks everything, biting and scratching to get away, as any animal would who is frightened. They are not vicious and mean, but will fight for their lives, if threatened.
What is the answer? Caring people feed community cats. Laws cannot legislate human compassion. People will not suddenly stop feeding cats. Nor will they take them for free euthanasia. The humane solution? Trap-Neuter-Return. Allow people to feed but make spay/neuter and vaccinations accessible.
Please Help Us Make a Difference - Click Here To Donate Today!