Wednesday, April 18, 2012

PETA and the feral cat question

Franklin the feral cat by the electricity meter
Feral Franklin keeps an eye on our electricity usage.
Last week, Best Friends Animal Society, a humane rescue organization with a prominent no-kill attitude, posted a blog slamming PETA for its stance on feral cat colony management. Apparently, PETA and Best Friends are in a bit of a disagreement about the management of one large colony in Albuquerque, with Best Friends arguing for trap/neuter/return and PETA arguing for trap/euthanize. The blog entry was quite heated. (See it here.)

At first, I was pretty shocked. I am unaccustomed to animal organizations airing their grievances in such a public way, for starters, but I was also under the assumption that PETA would support trap/neuter/return policies. After all, these are the people who advocate that humans shouldn't eat meat or wear leather. Causing the death of animals seemed antithetical to the mission statement of PETA.

Boy, was I wrong.

It didn't take much scouring through PETA's website to see that the organization is deeply opposed to feral cat colony management. They claim that managing the colonies in this way leads to prolonged suffering, and eventually death. They even go so far as to suggest that trapping and killing cats is really the nicest thing an animal lover could do, and they even provide suggestions on how it should be done. (Read the whole thing here.)

Honestly, this PETA stance baffles me. Euthanizing feral cats doesn't reduce their suffering. They are stuffed in a box, taken to an unfamiliar place and loaded up with chemicals to stop their hearts. They may be confused and deeply, deeply frightened. Sounds pretty horrible to me.

In addition, this PETA stance contains what I call a thought loop: We must euthanize cats to keep them from dying.


This makes no sense.

And as someone who manages a feral cat, this stance makes me a little sick. Franklin is feral. We cannot touch him, and we know of no one who has touched him. In order to neuter him and get him vaccinated, we had to trap him.

By PETA's definition, he is leading a horrible life.

By mine, his life is still worth living. He enjoys his food, he spends time sunbathing, he accepts grooming from his friends and he sleeps in his heated bed at night, dreaming.

Who are we to say his life isn't worth living? Who do we think we are?

I, for one, am glad to know this about PETA. Never again will I give them another cent in donations. I hope you won't either. Instead, let's all support Best Friends, who seem to be doing work we can believe in.