Saturday, June 30, 2012


We're all spending more time outdoors now that summer is here which only serves to highlight the feral cat problem in New York's five boroughs. I'm sure everyone will admit this crisis is more evident during the warmer months especially when ferals and strays are breeding. There are many facets to this issue so I hope this post will cover all aspects of the situation.

My own sweet Buddy was a stray, tossed out by his original owners and that is part of the problem - irresponsible owners. Anyone who cannot care for their cat should realize they are not doing their feline a favor by turning them out. Fighting for food, looking for shelter, searching for water, dodging traffic and trying to escape from dogs or people who will harm them isn't preferable to turning them over to rescue groups or the ASPCA. Yes, euthanasia is a terrible prospect but a hard, uncertain life on the streets with a painful death is not a mercy either. And this act of abandonment, if coupled with the pet never having been spayed or neutered increases the homeless cat population, territorial fighting and injured male cats.

If you have a cat make your pet a house-cat. Keep your feline friend inside at all times to avoid communicable, incurable diseases, to prevent fighting or accidental injuries or death. If you are fortunate to have a backyard, invest in a cat containment system so your cat can enjoy the yard without escaping. You can find several different kinds on the internet. Don't want to spend the money or only have a porch or balcony? Consider a cage of some sort for your feline but remember it is very important to provide sun and shade simultaneously along with water and constant supervision. Buddy had a collapsible mesh cage, Annie would keep Buds company on our back porch and I would check on both of them every 10-15 minutes without fail. Don't have the resources or the time to do this? Open a window that has a built-in screen, attach a perch inside and your cat will be happy as can be to get that basic contact with the outdoors. if you live in an apartment building or have more than one floor to your house, watch out for high-rise syndrome which is the subject of yesterday's post.

City government does not have the funds (grants are running out) nor do they really care about the cat overpopulation issue. That's where we all come in. If you are a cat lover, think long and hard about managing a local feral colony. Remember this entails TNR (trap, neuter/spay, return) as well as providing food, water, shelter and medical care when needed. You could consider this even if you aren't interested in having pets or you could do this in addition to caring for your own pets. TNR will lower the amount of kittens turned into shelters and in turn the feral colony members help keep the rat population (another urban problem) in check instead of becoming euthanasia statistics.

At the very least anyone interested in helping in some small way can donate to low-cost spay/neuter programs or get in touch with the ASPCA, Humane Society, the Toby project and Maddie's Fund to find out more. Surf the internet to learn more about TNR, maintaining feral colonies and all other issues related to stray and feral cats:

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