Tuesday, October 13, 2009

National feral cat day

This Friday, October 16, is National Feral Cat Day, brought to us by Alley Cat Allies, “the cats’ leading advocate.”

One place that really should not need feral cat-advocacy at this point, yet clearly does, is nearby Ewing Township. For months, the animal shelter there has been the focus of attention and dissention via newspaper coverage and activists’ energy directed against the mayor and town council. Of course, the animals involved, who can’t speak for themselves, are caught in the middle, helpless.

It recently became even more upsetting because a number of trapped feral cats at the shelter were threatened with death. It’s not known right now whether they were euthanized today, as threatened.

Ewing officials seem to have no idea of what feral cats are all about. One council member has reportedly described them as a “health hazard,” when in fact Ewing officials themselves seem to constitute the worst possible health hazard for cats.

Trapping feral cats is only step one of the three-part program called “Trap, Neuter, Release (sometimes “Return”),” or TNR. Widely known and practiced, although not in Ewing, the program builds on the reality that feral cats are wild cats who live in colonies. They will keep reproducing (and increasing colony size) unless they are neutered or spayed.

After being sterilized, feral cats should be returned to their colony. By definition, feral cats aren’t looking for a home; they don’t want to cuddle on our couches, as Alley Cat Allies’ website warns. They’ve learned to live outdoors, and that’s the place they prefer. Once an entire colony is neutered or spayed, they can’t reproduce, and over time, they die out. (Note: feral kittens sometimes can be socialized and adopted.)

For reasons unknown, Ewing has not accepted the idea of TNR. In fact, Ewing seems to lack any coherent plan for what to do with animals at large in the township as well as animals in the so-called “shelter” there.

Alley Cat Allies urges people to “get informed.” What better time to do this than on or before National Feral Cat Day, this Friday? Here’s the link to basic info on ferals:

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