Categorized | Health, Local Perspectives

Feral Cats and the Waste of the Public Tax Dollar

The collection and euthanasia of feral and stray cats is a waste of valuable tax dollars. Trap, spay and release cost less and saves scarce public monies for more productive social needs such as public safety and education.

Feral cats are as much a part of the urban landscape as squirrels, pigeons, raccoons, possums and woodchucks. Why then do some people perceive them as a problem. Feral cats live in colonies, the others, except for pigeons, don’t. This makes feral cats more noticeable and as perceived by some more of a nuisance. People complain about the smell of urine and feces. Of cats getting into the garbage and making a mess. Of noise at night, like all cats feral cats are nocturnal. In response to residences complaints municipal official often attempt, at great cost, an eradication program.

In the short term this works. In the long term it’s a failure. Feral cats are territorial. When one colony is wiped out it opens the territory to a new colony. The problem repeats itself. The municipal officials respond to residence complaints in the same manner. Wasting more tax dollars and get the same results.

The solution is twofold. First Trap, Spay (neutering for males) and Release. This reduces the population naturally over time since the cats cannot reproduce. Second is to educate the residence as how to discourage feral cats from establishing a colony in their backyards. Gardens and patios should be sprayed with a commercial cat repellent or a natural one like citrus spray. Left over lemon and orange peels also works. This prevents from the cats using your yard as a litter box. If they did use your patio as a litter box white vinegar will neutralize the urine smell.

The use of Garbage cans with tight lids, not plastic bags only, denies the cats a food source. Stop the littering! The KFC box of chicken bones is a dinner invitation to a feral cat, as well as raccoons and rodents.

Hissing and yowling are sounds male cats make when squaring off to fight. What their fighting over usually is a female in heat. Spaying and neutering removes the urge to reproduce reducing the noise problem. Many people think that feral cats are responsible for a reduced songbird population. It’s a lucky cat that can catch a bird. If they do it’s usually old or sick and this is nature’s way strengthen the flock. Generally it’s not a songbird but a pigeon.

This helps keep the urban ecosystem in balance. A feral cats main source of food in the wild are rodents. This keeps the rodent population in check and the urban ecosystem in balance.

Feral cats are not the problem of municipal governments. It’s the residence that must take responsibility by using garbage cans with lids, by not littering, by spraying their property with repellent if they don’t want cats on their property and by demanding that public officials abandon a failed policy of eradication which waste tax dollars and adopt the cost effect Trap, Spay (neuter) and Release policy.

Sources and Additional Information:  ASPCA at www.aspca.org

Alley Cat Allies at www.alleycat.org

John Yuhas

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