Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abandoned cats, feral cats and bad owners

Maggie the cat sleeping on a fleece blanket
All cats deserve warm fleece bits to sleep on. Just ask Maggie.
My workday got off to a bang when I stumbled across this local news article (Update 20160324: This link is no longer active.). The gist of the story is that a neighborhood is beset by a group of cats who have no home to call their own. The neighbors are fed up, and the authorities have little power to help, and there are few resources with which to help these cats.

There's a lot to be upset about here.

Firstly, there seems (to me) to be a lot of confusion about where these cats came from. The report suggests that the cats once lived with a homeowner who has moved away, but the report also refers to these cats as "feral."

As we all know, feral cats cannot be approached by humans and they have never lived with humans. If these cats are truly feral, they never lived inside to begin with. And the homeowner is never identified, and isn't given a chance to explain what really happened. Were these cats left behind years ago? Were there only two then, and now there are hundreds? It's really unclear.

Secondly, the local humane society allegedly told the reporter that they cannot trap the cats on private property, but it would have been easier for them to help if the homeowners had abandoned the cats inside the home. Then they could break in and rescue them.

I'm unclear about the laws, and maybe this is true, but I think that representative should think hard about what this suggestion really means. Cats are not loud creatures, as a rule. Cats confined to a house with no food and no water (abandoned, in other words) might simply die in large numbers before anyone even knew they were in the home. Is this really what the representative wants? The problem would be hidden, but it would result in death. A better statement would have involved the legalities of abandoning pets, whether inside the home or out. Even providing no comment at all would have been better.

And finally, there is no real solution for these pets. The neighbors are just overwhelmed with the number of cats running loose in the community, and they don't know what they should do with the cats if they trap them, as they're told to do. I fear that these cats will be condemned to death in large numbers, simply because they are sick and there are too many of them. The idea makes me physically ill.

I tried to think of solutions, but honestly, mine are really basic and someone who would read this column would already be following my advice. But, for my own peace of mind, I deliver it anyway.
  1. Spay or neuter your cats. These animals are prolific breeders, and one cat can quickly become many, many cats. See this post for more information. 
  2. Don't abandon your pets. If you're moving, take them with you. 
It's pretty simple, really.

If you live in the Portland area and you have room, and a willingness, to help deal with this problem in Hazel Dell, scroll to the bottom of the news story I linked at the top of this post. There is a woman attempting to trap and rehome these cats, and I'm sure she could use your help.