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On the Euthanizing of Feral Cats

Look, people, we’ve got a feral cat problem in South Florida, and it’s not going anywhere. And because it’s largely our fault, due to lack of education and action regarding spaying and neutering, we, in my opinion, are obligated to do something about it. In While others shop, woman tends to feral cats, Daphne Duret of the Palm Beach Post reports that in Jensen Beach, a ways north of where I live, there’s a clash between a woman who cares for a colony of feral cats, and the people who want them gone. Substitute any town for Jensen Beach–the story is the same.

What we have here is a classic choice between two evils, like most elections for president. And you might be suprised about where Animal Person stands.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • People don’t sterilize their cats, then proceed to let them out to wreak havoc–reproductively speaking–on the cat population, and to possibly catch, or spread, diseases. My kitty, Emily Fokker, is a carrier of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which she transmitted to my husband’s kitty, Lars Axl Fokker, who promtly died a horrifying death several month’s later. We affectionately refer to her as "the death machine," because if we were to let her outside, she’d clear out the entire neighborhood of felines in no time.
  • Cats who live outside freeze, starve, get hit by cars, get abused by cruel people, are constantly on their guard, and contract all kinds of diseases, including FIP, Feline HIV (FIV), and Feline Leukemia (FeLV), then pass them on. Death by these diseases is no picnic when you live in a fabulous suburban house surrounded by people who love you and every comfort you can imagine. What must it be like outside, with no medical care, no love, and little or no comfort?
  • What do you think is the disposition of the cats who can survive the streets?
  • Our shelters and sanctuaries–kill and no-kill–are bursting with healthy cats.

We’re far beyond the point where we can feed and sterilize all of the cats in feral cat colonies, test them all for terminal and/or contagious diseases, treat them, and return them so that we start transforming our colonies to groups of only sterile, healthy cats. Call me crazy, but with the limited resources that currently are allocated to "pet" control, I just don’t see that happening.

Here is the Gray Matter: Is the life on the streets that I describe a good life for a cat? Is it one you would choose? And given the millions of cats in shelters, and the millions (about half) who are euthanized, can we, realistically, afford to spend our resources on feral cats?

I’m not a utilitarian, although my reasoning may sound like I am. I believe in decreasing suffering, and after seeing feral cat colonies and the way we deal with them, for decades, I can comfortably say that it’s no way to live and die.

And when you combine the notion of decreasing suffering with the economic realities of the situation, my conscience tells me that euthanasia is the kinder choice.

I have since gained clarity on this issue and am convinced that because veganism and abolition are based on nonviolence, I can no longer support the mass killing of feral cats. This is no longer a Gray Matter for me (however are current solutions are far from perfect). This is the only issue for which I have altered by position.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Anonymous #

    You are so right about the feral cat situation. I have had many arguments with my guy and others on this issue. Being an animal activist means I'm constantly trying to save animal lives threw fur protests, fostering animals, being vegan and other ways so my guy and other people I know are always shocked to find out that I think the best thing for feral cats is to have them put down. You are right they live an awful life on the streets. I'm about quality of life not about having an animal stay alive just to live a miserable existentance. I even take an equally radical view point on companion animals that I don't tell people about. I believe in the following which comes from Peta……….

    PETA does believe in total animal liberation. This includes companion animals. We advocate for a no-birth nation, which means that no more puppies and kittens will be born because all current companion animals have been spayed or neutered. The reason being because the world we live in is no place for a domesticated animal. There are people who torture animals, hoarders you gather them for experiments and cars that can hit them. Because of this animals are best kept in doors unless on a harness of some sort to keep them out of harms way. It is not an ideal situation, but it is the best thing that we can do for them and one day we will hopefully live in a world where all animals are free.

    The bottom line is that what would be best for farm animals and companion animals is to stop all breeding until there is no more of them. Only then would we be able to guaranteed that ALL animals will no longer suffer by the hands of man every again.

    I really don't think most people care about their own animals well being as much as they do about their own needs, like having dogs staying in crates for 8 hours a day when they go to work. Having animals living with young kids that are running around screaming, crying and being rough with them. Seeing dogs walking in downtown Toronto amongst all those people and all that noise and traffic can't be a pleasant thing for them. Another thing that saddens me is when a companion animal has been taught to beg for their food. One of our cats that we adopted from a shelter had been taught to do that. It took a long time for her to stop doing that. My guy said oh I thought it was cute. God sometimes I don't think there is any hope for him…lol. I said to him well I don't make you beg for your food so why would I make a cat beg for food.

    I think people really have to sit down and think hard is their companion animal really happy?

    Is It Mentally Stimulated Enough

    Do you play with it daily? Do you pet it daily? Does your cat have access to an enclosed outdoor pen or access to look out a window by putting a piece of furniture under it. Is it living in a stressful situation like screaming kids or living with another animal that it does not get along with. You need to provide it with a peaceful and stimulating envirorment. I still don't get why we are told to feed animals such as cats 1 or 2 times a day. I know I would be really hunger if I was only eating once a day. That's why I feed mine like I feed myself 3 times a day.


    November 28, 2006

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