Thursday, June 11, 2015

Feral Cats

Just got back from helping out, once again, at a cat spay/neuter clinic. Every clinic I've volunteered at does between 100-200 cats. 

This kitty has cotton in its ears to muffle sounds. This way the cat will be less stressed and thus the anesthesia will take effect better. 

After a long day, I'm ready for a rant. I know that I am most likely just preaching to the choir, but if what I have to say even helps one cat out there, it is worth it. If it gives just one person something to think about and thus moves them to neuter their cats (or their neighbor's cats), then some cats will have better lives. If rants are not your thing, then stop right now. 

Caution    ....    Rant warning

Hawaii, at least on my island, has to deal with the neglect and irresponsible behavior of previous generations of cat owners. What am I talking about? The appalling huge numbers of non-neutered feral cats that have resulted from the original pet owners not caring that their cats reproduced, not caring that they dumped the kittens out in the woods.  And what is so incredibly depressing is that current pet owners continue this same behavior to this day. Granted, not as great a percentage as before, but I've run into dozens of cat owners who do not control the unwanted litters and who dump kittens. I offer free, free, free neutering only to have it rejected. 

Want to hear their excuses? 

...It's against nature. Oh cut me a break! It's against nature to treat cancer too, so if your child comes up with a childhood cancer, are you just going to sit back and let nature do its thing? If your tooth gets abscessed, are you going to sit at home in agony for weeks until it either rots out or the abscess erodes into your brain? If your wife starts bleeding uncontrollably during child birth, you'll let nature takes its course and she will die? 
...The vet charges too much. Gotcha on that one! I can arrange to have it done for free! Sigh....they don't take me up on it, but just try to wiggle out with some other excuse. 
...My husband won't let me. Really? Let me to talk with him. But it never is allowed. 
...I don't have a cat cage (or I can't get the cat into a cage). No problem. I will lend you a cat trap for free. 
...You can do my female, but not the male. Oooooo, yes I'm talking to a man. How'd you guess! I'm amazed with how many men think it's ok to do females but take it personal when it comes to a male. Gee, I'm not taking your nuts off, just your cat's....though heaven knows that neutering you might be a good idea too. Oops, did I say that?   ;)   You're living your sex life through your cat? Cut me a break! How non-macho is that! Think I'm being too strong? I dare you to come see what happens to all those kittens your cat sires. And by the way, feral tom cats are not happy and blissful. On the contrary, they are stressed, on edge, or at war ALL the time. 
...Cats prefer to live free. Living free should not equate to unbridled reproduction. Reproducing cats are constantly under stress. Very few have the opportunity to relax, be lazy, get fat, enjoy a life of freedom. When was the last time you saw a sleek, chubby, old feral cat that is producing kittens? Neutered ferals have a better chance at attaining the image of a content free-living cat. 
...I don't have the time. No problem. Just give me permission and I will come trap, neuter, and return the cats for you. Only some of the  people I know who have non-neutered outdoor cats have taken me up on the offer. Why not all? 
...Neutered cats get fat. That doesn't have to happen. Just as with people, too much food combined with less activity results in overweight. Neutered cats are no longer under a lot of stress and no longer have to roam constantly. Thus their activity level and anxiety are less. If you are feeding ferals, just feed less once they are neutered. Hey, that will save you money! 
...Neutered cats don't hunt mice and rats. I can say from experience that that's not true. I have had many a neutered cat that were proficient mousers. 

I always ask these resistant owners what they do with the unwanted kittens. Now it's time to see them squirm. I've never had one tell me that they dump them. They insist that they find them homes with a friend, a relative, a ".....". But when I offer to have those kittens neutered for free, the people tap dance. Yup, they dumped them.

Dumped kittens sometimes survive, but not too often unless they got dumped near a feral cat feeding station or somewhere where a kind heart feeds ferals. Most kittens die a horrible death. The lucky ones get run over by cars, savaged by mongooses, killed by dogs, killed by a tom cat. The unlucky die after weeks of starvation. And the very unlucky ones die of thirst. Ever try going 2-3 days without water. A 2-3 weeks without food? 

Hey, ever think what happens to feral cats that wander into a county, state, or federal park? Trap & kill is the policy. Ever watch trapped cat get drowned or shot? That's humane compared to what many private land owners do with feral cats. Antifreeze is a horrible way to die. So it getting beaten to death or getting released into the dog pen with two dogs.

Shocking? Sickening? You bet!!!! So have you talked to anyone with non-neutered cats lately about getting their cats done? Have you volunteered at a spay/neuter clinic? 


  1. Great rant! If you read this while showing slides of the sad fates of those ferals, and posted it on Youtube, it would go viral. Your refutation of all the usual excuses is masterful. Thank you!

  2. I agree with Barry. Your rant should get widely distributed.

    Our 2 cats showed up on our ranch.There's 1 more that is a "under house cat" at the main house. The first thing we did was take them to the vet and have them fixed. Period.

    I just don't even know what to say. I am mystified as to the basis for the irrational behavior on the part of some people. Laziness? Ego? It's appalling.

  3. Jeff sent me this comment.........

    As I'm sure you are aware, the issue of feline overpopulation in Hawaii is nothing new.

    Shortly after moving here I reread Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii and was reminded that he commented on this topic 150 years ago.

    In his letter, published in the Sacramento Union on 19 April 1866, Twain wrote, in part:

    . . . I saw cats--Tom cats, Mary Ann cats, long-tailed cats, bobtail cats, blind cats, one-eyed cats, walleyed cats, cross-eyed cats, gray cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats, striped cats, spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of them sleek, fat, lazy, and sound asleep;

    You can read the above quote in context as it was published in Roughing It at this link.

  4. I don't know when the first cats arrived in Hawaii, but I've read mention of cats on Big Island in the diaries and letters of the early missionaries. Since Mark Twain saw sleek, fat, lounging cats, I am guessing that Hawaiians were feeding the cats in some fashion. My next step is to suspect that they may have eaten cats, if even only during times of drought. Since dog was already on the menu, it wouldn't be a great leap to see cats as being edible. The only reason to divert food to the cats would be to store food excess in the form of cat meat. Much the same was done with dogs.

    Humor, so why not eat the surplus cats today? Oh I can hear the cries of outrage now.