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.
- 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.
UPDATE: 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.