While I am a cat lover, I also am concerned about the welfare of all animals, not only felines.  I know some people who believe that just because you like cats, you cannot like dogs or vice versa.  But that has never been the case with me.

Likewise, I worry about the animals I see on television and read about who are going extinct through loss of habitat and the encroachment of human ways.  I also care about the wildlife in my own front yard–the birds and chipmunks and moles that call our pine trees and flower beds home. Because of this, we stopped having chemicals and pesticides sprayed on our lawn by the local “Yard like a Golf Course” company.  I read that lawn chemicals cause more deaths for birds and wildlife than any other reason beyond loss of habitat due to humans taking over their homes.  So now we have dandelions, which our neighbors hate, because they blow on to their perfectly manicured, sprayed lawns.

Bring on the dandelions.

Because I do care about the wildlife in our yard, I get upset with our two feral cats who live outside and sometimes bring me “gifts” in the form of dead birds and mice.  I have taken several of these injured creatures to our local Wildlife Center to have them treated and given medical care.

Let me assure you, my tame, indoor cats stay inside at all times.  They do not go in and out as I find this too dangerous. We have a screened in area where they can go to lay in the sunshine and chew on grass, but they are confined.  There are too many coyotes, cars, and other dangers for me to allow them to roam.

And although I do have one inside kitty that was once a feral cat and is now the biggest lover ever, the two cats outside are not ever going to be house cats. So outside they remain.

While I wish I could stop the predatory instinct in the outside cats, stop them from harassing the mice and birds that also call our yard home, I do not believe that the answer is to kill the cats.  Killing one animal to save another produces the same result: an animal dies.

Because I consider myself more than just a cat lover, I was upset to see a recent article, in one of my favorite bird and animal magazines published by a group I hold in high esteem for their work on behalf of wild creatures, that advocated killing feral cats.

The September Edition of Audubon Magazine, published by the National Audubon Society, of which I am a member, contains an article by “Incite” columnist, Ted Williams (who calls himself “an independent advocate for the environment”) concerning the failures of TNR, Trap-Neuter-Return.  

You can read the article yourself by going to http://audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0909.html

I would ask that you read the article and if you have problems with any of the ideas presented therein, please contact the National Audubon Society.

Since I am a huge advocate of TNR and our group focuses on this very valuable activity to reduce the overpopulation problem among stray and feral cats, I was deeply upset to find that this article is completely against spaying and neutering free-roaming cats and instead advocates killing the cats.

As Mr. Williams writes, “The University of Hawaii is overrun by feral house cats—more than one per acre—and it smells that way. They are fed by university professors and students, who also trap and medicate them, get them spayed and castrated, then release them. The idea is that the colony will eventually die out without individuals being subjected to the perceived hideous fate of euthanasia. Pioneered in North America at the University of Washington in the 1980s, it’s called Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR). It’s all the rage across the United States. And it doesn’t work.”

Yes, Mr. Williams does not believe that TNR works, but our group has seen that it does in our rural area among the people we have helped, people who are no longer overrun with litter after litter of unwanted kittens each year.

In another paragraph, he writes, “In rural areas where feral cats are killing threatened or endangered wildlife, sometimes the only practical way for state or federal management agencies to deal with them (and therefore the way required by the Endangered Species Act) is for animal-control professionals retained by state or federal resources agencies to shoot them in the head with rifles, a form of euthanasia approved as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This approach is certainly kinder to the cats than stressing them with traps, transport, and eventually and almost inevitably lethal injection at shelters.”

Yes, that is correct, he advocates shooting the cats in the head with rifles.

While I do not agree with Mr. Williams, I do believe that we must find a way to control the feline overpopulation problem while also protecting the other animals that often fall prey to hungry cats. I do not want to see any animals suffer–either those harmed by cats or those threatened by humans–and believe me, I often feel we humans are the most destructive, the greatest predators on this planet.  

It is time to change that.

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