I arrived home very tired, to read the letter to the editor in your paper calling people like myself ‘ignorant,’ if we believe free-roaming cats have a place in our coastal communities. I am really too tired to argue with this individual’s sentiment, except to ask the following questions:
If you believe that free-roaming cats are responsible for declines in bird populations, what part do you think development, both commercial and residential, has played? Cats have been coexisting with us for hundreds of years, but humans have only overdeveloped our coastal areas very recently. Research indicates humans and the development they cause are a more dangerous enemy to our native bird populations than cats, particularly if the cats are part of a colony that is fed regularly.
If allowing spayed, neutered and vaccinated cats to live in our coastal and beach communities is wrong, what would you have us do with them? It has been shown that removing cats from an area results in a ‘vacuum effect.’ Other cats move into the vacant territory that has been recently been cleared of cats. Rather than continually removing cats from an area and killing them, the more effective, economical and humane alternative is to trap, spay or neuter, vaccinate and release (or TNR) the cats
If all the volunteers stopped taking care of community cats, preventing rabies and the explosion of kittens we know would result otherwise, would that be a better outcome? People regularly tell me I am wasting my time by working on the pet overpopulation problem. I can only say that, for the cats we worked with today, their future has definitely improved. That is enough for me.
(Photo credit, Neighborhood Cats)