Lynda Garibaldi, Director of Cats’ Cradle, wrote a special article for the Morganton, NC, News Herald about cats. In her insightful piece, she discusses that for many people, cats have no value due to their seemingly being everywhere. Her observations ring true. There are many cats and they can be seen everywhere. In alleys and backyards. Behind restaurants and in parking lots. At malls and office buildings. In the woods and empty lots. Everywhere.
Her concern was that cats appear to be disposable. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Health, up to 75% of cats admitted to shelters and pounds are euthanized each year across the country. That is a frightening number of animals. Equally frightening is that an unsprayed female cat can be directly responsible for 420,000 cats within seven years if none of her offspring is altered. This is a particular issue when it comes to the feral cat population.
Many feral cat colony and rescue organizations are employing the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method which allows them to stabilize numbers and health of the population, allowing the animals to continue to live safely in familiar territory. The costs for these procedures is typically paid for by fundraising, the volunteers themselves, and donated or greatly reduced care services, so there is little in the way of governmental outlay. Far more costly is the trap and kill method that in addition to being inhumane and highly ineffective in controlling populations, can be costly for local governments. Perhaps the poorest method, which really is not a method at all, is to simply ignore the program and hope that it will go away. It won’t. The Humane Society of the United States uses the term “Community Cats,” for feral and stray felines, which speaks directly to the heart of the matter. These animals are part of the community.
Given some of the costs involved, it appears that there is a value associated with cats, directly related to the selected method of action.
Ms. Garibaldi closes her passionate article with asking readers to give a thought to those who do this caretaking , rescuing, and fostering of cats. Were there not people who placed value on these animals, who didn’t make the time and take the effort to look out for their health and well-being, any given community would have to make some tough decisions. As with everything, it always comes down to the bottom line. However, it seems there is an obvious answer, but it will take a community of actionable individuals to make the case for common sense.