Monday, September 21, 2015
In the news: Salem cat poisoning case goes to trial; cat issues remain
Raise your hand if you've dealt with cats pooping in your flowerbeds, spraying your door jambs and shredding your car/boat tarps. See my hand raised high? Yup, it happens to me, too.
And it happened to a man in my neighborhood, and he's on trial right now for his solution.
According to some published accounts of the trial, this man laced meat with antifreeze and set that meat out where neighborhood cats could find it and nosh on it. And when the whole thing was over, nine cats lost their lives.
I first wrote about this incident in January (that post is here), and at the time, I was pretty pleased with the great deal of coverage this case was seeing in the mainstream press. This man's solution got a lot of people talking about feral cats in Oregon, and I had hoped we'd see some new and innovative solutions coming out of this horrible crime.
There are some good reasons to be hopeful.
The TNR program in Salem is credited with reducing a large population of feral cats in one Salem neighborhood. Each surgery done makes this colony a little smaller, and presumably, that colony will die out altogether once the adult cats pass away. With no new kittens to replenish the colony, the herd will just go away altogether.
But, we're still far from a feline-friendly Salem, as this same cat success story comes with a darker side.
Some people living near this large cat colony are so tired of the issue that they've pressed for rule changes. Now, the people living in this community can face steep fines if they feed these feral cats. The community members want to starve these cats out.
Now, removing a cat's food source isn't the same thing as feeding a cat poison. I understand that, and I'm sure you do, too. But I think we can all agree that refusing to feed a feral cat colony is inhumane. It's a method that's designed to keep cats from a neighborhood due to behaviors the humans don't like. It's all part of the same spectrum.
At the moment, the man on trial for poisoning cats could face jail time or fines if he's convicted. But I can't see any references to consequences for these community managers who hope to starve cats. I think they should face some sort of backlash, too.
So what's the answer?
I always ask this, and I'm not certain my solutions really resonate. But here's the thing I would counsel Salem residents: Be patient.
Cat overpopulation issues don't crop up overnight. They take time to build. And similarly, solving them will also take time. TNR teams are on hand and very active in Salem, helping to corral these cats and alter them, so their numbers won't grow each and every year. Let that work continue, and celebrate the smaller colony sizes.
If you want to get involved, trap a few kitties yourself and deliver them to spay/neuter sites (find out more here). And when the surgery is done, bring the cats home and feed them. If you tame them, bring them to humane societies for adoption.
And just wait. Don't get dramatic. Don't beat them or poison them or starve them. Support the work. Do the work. Be part of a positive change for our community.