This is the latest installment of the war against the feral cat in the United States. The instigators of the war – the aggressors – are the ornithologists and bird conservationists (“the bird people”) and the defenders are people who are concerned about cat welfare and who practice trap-neuter-return (TNR) as a way of humanely controlling feral cat populations.
The aggressors are waging their war in a particular way. They are not overtly lobbying government bodies to create legislation that might reduce feral cat populations through forcing improvements in the quality of cat ownership. Instead, they are waging a publicity campaign that maligns the feral cat and which paints the people who care about feral cats as crazies; people who treat TNR as a religion.
“You can’t sit down and reason with most of these people.” (biologist Fern Duvall)
The aggressors are trying to paint a picture of themselves as sensible scientists versus crazy cat ladies. It is all wrong and nasty, in my opinion.
The nastiness has reached new heights and it all comes from the aggressors, the bird people. The bird people are indulging in acts of desperation borne out of acute frustration at the lack of change. Recently we had the Smithsonian declaring false science in saying that cats killed billions of birds and other animals, all of it based on guesswork and estimates.
Another recent article from an aggressor comes from the other side of the world, New Zealand. It was written by an economist who wants all stray cats killed, which, incidentally, is what the bird people in general want.
Now, the editor-at-large for Audubon magazine, Ted Williams, has waded into the battle with grossly misleading and inflammatory remarks, the worst of which is that he advised readers that Tylenol is “a completely selective feral-cat poison.” Apparently, he was advocating poisoning feral cats, a crime. Note: he appears to have deleted this poisonous remark after a stunned reaction by animal welfare writers.
Ted Williams recently wrote an article that was published in the Orlando Sentinel. The article raises the game in the war because it is so tainted with bile and hatred for the feral cat that he loses the plot, somewhat.
Here are some of the statements (as quotes) from the article together with my comments:
“Feral cats are maintained in the wild by a dangerous, cruel, and illegal practice called trap, neuter and return..”
Is TNR illegal? It may be in certain parts of the USA but not generally. Ted’s argument that it is cruel comes from the concept that it is less cruel to kill these cats than to let them live. Is TNR dangerous? Perhaps he is frightened that feral cats are a danger to the fabric of America society. I think he does.
“One intact male can impregnate dozens of females..”
Yes, but if they are neutered and spayed it won’t happen, will it.
“Feral cats are now the most common domestic rabies vector..”
Feral cats are not domestic cats so I don’t understand this sentence. Also, Mr Williams makes no reference to the source of his information except for the biased Smithsonian report. Also it is extremely rare to acquire rabies from a feral cat in the USA.
“In Florida, where rabid cats attack people…”
To Mr Williams, Florida is awash with marauding, rabid feral cats roaming the streets and beaches leaping on retired people and infecting them with deadly rabies. Yes, rabies is a series disease but this is gross exaggeration in a transparent attempt to malign the feral cat to encourage people to kill it either legally or otherwise.
Mr Williams wants trap and euthanize (TE) rather than TNR for all feral cats in the USA. He isn’t alone in that idea. This is a sign that the government should do the right thing and tackle irresponsible cat ownership, something that Mr Williams never mentions.