The author wishes to remain anonymousIn Australia the federal government recognises three classes of cats:
- Companion cats
- Stray cats
- Feral cats
Everyone understands what a companion cat is, but strays and ferals are constantly confused.
I once telephoned the person in charge of culling feral cats in NSW. He held the firm belief that the cats he was destroying were strays, in other words he told me they were once pets. He said that if all companion cats were neutered or destroyed, and cat ownership made illegal; feral cats would die off along with every other cat in Australia. I think he held this opinion to justify his job, because then his job would never end. Because no matter how great an area is subject to poisoning, the area is quickly re-colonised by cats from outside the area that missed the cull. He must know this, but continues the misinformation to protect his job.
Feral cats were born feral and are rarely seen by people. All predators and their prey reach a population balance i.e. predators increase their population because prey is plentiful. The prey decreases and the predators decrease. The prey increases, then the predators increase and so on. At any one time both populations are in flux, which means culling is a waste of time and money.
The problem for strays is that they are called “ferals” by people who should no better. Most strays are dumped companion animals. They cannot live without people. They scavenge for food in bins and eat fellow scavengers, rats and mice. Strays form colonies, which becomes a problem for nearby residents. By naming them ferals, it is easy to justify culling them, but this procedure does not stop people dumping cats or solve the problem.
An independent member of State Parliament is aware of the problem and is trying to have stray cat control made a responsibility of state government rather than local councils. This may be difficult, as a conservative state government is trying to shrink government services.
At present, cats are being demonised for being ferals, strays, and even companion animals by those ignorant people who believe them to be the source of ferals and strays.
The answer is education of the public, but there are no funds or interest in such a campaign, and the media is quick to do stories on the feral and stray problem.
Photo: from http://www.sportingshootermag.com.au/