How Angry Are People About Feral Cats?


I don’t know why – but it seems in 2010 readers complained an awful lot about feral cat issues? Are there more feral cats today than five years ago?

I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. Perhaps, what is true is that the public discourse on the issue and public frustration about owned cats allowed to roam and being poor feline ambassadors is growing to a fever pitch. 

My friend Karen Pearlman wrote this story for Sign  On San Diego about a mystery involving attempts to poison feral cats in El Cajon, CA.

Water bowls clearly left for the feral cats in a colony were tainted with anti-freeze? (Anti-freeze can instantly kill cats unless it is sold as specifically ‘pet friendly’ anti freeze or treated with a bittering agent so it taste bad and animals don’t lap it up’).

Over the past few months alone, I’ve received several emails about owned cats terrorizing neighbors.

When the entire community comes together; trap, neuter, return seems to be effective.

Either the owned cats use their gardens as toilets, or spray up against the property causing their indoor cats minding their own business to wreak havoc as a result of the interlopers outside. It seems often people even know who these cats belong to, but the owners of these cats don’t care about their neighbors – and continue allow their cats to wander. All this, and feral cats colonies causing similar neighbor resentment sometimes give cats a bad name. And that’s a shame because all of this relates to humane behavior, not feline behavior.

I see examples of this sort of thing, the community really up and arms and then Tree House Humane Society in Chicago comes in, and reasons with folks in the neighborhoods while assisting TNR efforts with expertise (called Feral Friends). And sometimes the most passionate protesters are actually swayed to help. This is when TNR and community action really do work. Tree House has set a wonderful model, and there are others all over America.

While I understand the frustration some have about both owned cats allowed to roam and feral cats causing ‘issues,’ (including the killing of songbirds), if we can all work together we can do better than what a recent University of Nebraska report of feral cats suggests (And I blog about that report here). That report suggests trapping using what most today consider barbaric traps, and then pointing and shooting. Aside from being inhumane, this method has been tried for many many many decades around the world (and at one time here in the U.S.) – and has never worked. Cats are small targets, point and shoot, and the bullet bounces and hits a nearby child. It’s possible. However, it’s not possible this approach will do anything except to create more public divisiveness relating to feral cats.