Feral Cats Serve A Useful Purpose

by DoctorM
(Austin, TX USA)

Feral cats serve a useful purpose and have been in the Americas for as long as 400 years

In fact, feral cats have been on the scene as long as Europeans have had contact. Most of these feral cats piggyback on human settlements, mostly because we humans create a local environment favorable to mice and rats — from storing grains like rice, wheat and such, and because of our garbage heaps.

Feral cats keep the rat and mice populations in check, and for that reason alone, we should let them breed and propagate. There was a period in human history, in Europe in the middle ages, where cats were killed and persecuted. Then came the Asian rats and the black death, with no cats to keep them in check. It could happen here.

So I say, let the feral cat populations be — they serve a useful purpose to keep the rat and mice populations in check that humans settlements to to foster.


Feral Cats Serve A Useful Purpose to Feral Cats

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.

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Feral Cats Serve A Useful Purpose

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Mar 27, 2011 More thoughts
by: Leah (England)

I feel that the main issue (as Michael has already mentioned) is that this is a man made problem. Rodents (unless they are out of control) tend to be left alone. As I see it they are left alone because they forage mainly at night so humans don’t notice them as much.

Cats are obviously much larger and while they try to avoid humans interaction is inevitable. Sadly they are killed because their numbers become unmanageable and in turn they become a nuisance.

What annoys me like you wouldn’t believe is that these unfortunate creatures have no choice but to survive the best way they can like any other animal or human (who are after all animals too at the end of the day) yet they are tortured, drowned, poisoned, and slaughtered in whatever imaginative, innovative way that the next abuser that comes along decides to use.

Why is this acceptable? Why are they categorised differently to any domestic cat? They are not wild in the true sense; they are feral which is different. They were once domesticated but due to the changing priorities of the fickle human they were thrown out onto the street. They are not like rats, voles or mice and shouldn’t be treated as such.

They feel pain just the same as any other animal and if they are to be euthanised it should be done by someone licenced and it should be against the law for just anyone to kill them. If they are to be euthanised then it should be pain and stress free after all surely this is the least that can be done after they have lived their lives in misery and hardship.

But above all this I still firmly believe that TNR should be the first port of call because if colonies can be left in manageable sizes then they will not be a nuisance because there will be enough food so there would be no need for them to be culled. They would be able live without disease (which lets face it is mostly transmitted sexually) They could be left to live healthy and happy lives without fighting for the next female in heat. BTW do you have any idea how brutal the mating ritual is? A female can literally be torn apart if she is attacked by enough unneutered males. My friends cat was badly injured after escaping when she was in season. She was trapped down the side of the garage by 2 Toms. My friend couldn’t get to her but after the Toms left and she came out she was traumatised. She was bleeding, her ears were torn and she was covered in scratches and bites. She was only 8 months old.

So you see there are many reasons why no one will ever convince me that TNR is not the humane option.

At the end of the day DrM I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Mar 25, 2011 Re: Thoughts
by: DoctorM

Nice summary, Michael.
Thank you for allowing me to post a contrarian viewpoint.

I would love to have a discussion on “overpopulation,” or Malthusianism, as it pertains to humans or cats, but this may not be a suitable audience.

Mar 25, 2011 Thoughts
by: Michael

There are some great and passionate comments. But as usual opinion is divided.

I tend to favour Leah’s argument. There is the purist argument (leave feral cats alone) and the practical, pragmatic argument (TNR etc.).

Feral cats are killed and TNRed because people don’t want them around. People are frightened of them and getting a disease etc from them.

Being a purist at heart, I would prefer the purist argument – leaving feral cats alone as they can be useful – but as this is a human created problem, in a world dominated by the human and which is full of conflict and differing opinions, you have to find a practical solution that works for the majority of people.

As almost no one is solving the problem at source (better and more responsible cat caretaking) the poor compromise is TNR. I don’t believe that killing feral cats is the answer. In fact I feel it makes things worse as it perpetuates the problem and encourages more cat caretaking irresponsibility and cat killing.

TNR is far from perfect. In fact it fails often but no one deals with the problem properly and no one has a better solution that is not reactive as shooting and killing is.

The truth is that people caused the feral cat problem and we can’t fix it. It is a bit like debt. We will always get into debt. Feral cats are part of the human condition so the answer has to be human based and not the purist answer of DoctorM, whose opinion I respect incidentally.

Finally, the taboo subject of rapid and unsustainable human population growth should be addressed. We hardly ever discuss this but it is the cause of many a problem. Thousands of years ago there were less people and less feral cats and no one bothered the cats.

Michael Avatar

Mar 24, 2011 Leah (England)
by: DoctorM

Rats, voles, mice, squirrels, rabbits, and other prey survive and prosper without your help or concern;
Just as their predators — hawks, ferrets, foxes, martens, snakes, and yes, cats, and other predetors, will survive without your help.

Yes, mean people torture animals, not just limited to cats. — The solution is to prosecute those humans for animal cruelty — not a program the targets cats with sterilization.

You are evidently so emotionally invested in your “TNR solution” that it blinds you to any rational discussion that your solution may not be the best, or even really works, or is even really needed.

I have three cats, that are kept indoors. I have a big house for them to roam around in. I do not declaw them, but I do understand why people do, as cats can be very desructive to furniture, carpets, drapes, and such. They were already neutered when I got them, but I would not have chosen to neuter them if the option was available.

I favor euthansia as a far more humane procedure for treating unadoptable cats. But I wouldn’t do anything to disturb a cat coven in the woods, just as I would not disturb the local racoon population.

Mar 24, 2011 Oh for Gods sake grow up!
by: Leah (England)

DrM and wild paw we don’t live in a world where people leave feral cats alone to be wild and get on with things! We live in a cruel world where kids YES KIDS! trap them and burn them alive!

We don’t live in a world where they are born knowing how to hunt because we live in a world where selfish humans declaw them then throw them out when they realise they don’t like the personality of the declawed cat, so guess what!? they can’t hunt for themselves!

This is a man made problem! Get it yet! so a little too late for man not to intervene don’t you think?

Its hard enough to bring up a litter of kittens in a loving environment without wondering where the next morsel is coming from, without wondering if a rat has eaten your babies while you’ve been away or if someone has just taken them to torture them.

These cats aren’t allowed to live without interference because humans won’t take responsibility for their actions. I’ve fostered many pregnant Queens then watched as they’ve purred and looked at me with pride as they’ve produced beautiful kittens that I’ve later found loving homes for. If I hadn’t have then their babies probably would have frozen to death or been eaten or killed some other awful way.

So don’t come on here with your empty pathetic theatrical words you have no clue what these cats go though; you see a world where they can thrive free of cruelty and disease with prey in abundance. This is not the real world! And for sure you aren’t living in the real world either!

Mar 24, 2011 Ted –
by: DoctorM

Maybe you should not think you own the cat population, a real solution, or because you lurk here, that you somehow own this web-site.

Your imagined problem — feral cats, and your illogical solution — Trap, Neuter, and Release, does nothing to alleviate the imagined “over-population.” All it does add to a few individual cat’s misery.

Think about it — trap a “starving” cat, cut it up so it can’t reproduce, and release it to continue “starving.” How is that “kind?” It is not! In fact it is cruel.

I’m suggesting that the feral cat population is actually beneficial, and that there is no need for any human intervention program to control them — that the emvironment naturally inhibits their numbers in the wild.

If their is a problem, it is with human do-gooders thinking they have to feed them and protect them.

Try to entertain a different point of view once in awhile.

Mar 24, 2011 Dr M
by: Ted

Maybe you should not post your comments on a site where people come because they care about cats and their welfare!
We are not the ones seriously disturbed!!!!!!

Mar 24, 2011 Fertile Feral Cats Are Useful
by: DoctorM

Some seriously disturbrd, anti-human individuals posting here — maybe those of you so opposed to the fertile feral cats should start your own page instead of trying to drown out supporters of a fertile feral cat population.

Mar 24, 2011 You people are SYCOTIC
by: Anonymous

OOOOOOH that is harsh!!!!

You think you guys are going a little too far??
This is such a good fight you guys are putting up.

But mabe you all need a trip to the sychologist!!

Mar 24, 2011 To the waste of space
by: CJ

It’s a pity your mother wasn’t sterilized before you saw light of day!

Mar 24, 2011 Feral, Fertile Cats Serve a Useful Purpose
by: Wildpaw

Bleeding heart humans like you are in serious need of psychiatric help. You claim to be in sympathetic ressonance with cats, yet totally disdainful of your own kind.

Perhaps your mother should have been sterilized before you were born.

– Wildpaw

Mar 24, 2011 You need a reality check
by: Maggie

Watch part one, it’s about breeders. Watch how the cats are disgustingly killed because people like you think it’s okay for cats to breed and over populate. Would you like to die that way? Euthanasia is expensive, and most shelters can’t afford it. Alternative methods of killing are often very painful. Animals are not here to serve a purpose to humans. If a plague sets upon the earth that is our problem. Not cats. Too many innocent feline lives are being taken each year.

Imagine if we did let feral cats breed. A female cat can produce many litters a year. Even today feral cats have caused horrific environmental damage, and many feral cats are in shocking condition and are dying of diseases and starvation. It would not take long for feral cats to over populate if we let them. They would wipe out several species of animals, and would suffer immensely at the hands of starvation and disease.

Your idea of cats being allowed to breed and over populate would be environmentally devastating, and the cats would horrifically suffer. Your idea is cruel, and I honestly think you’re sick for thinking it up.

Mar 24, 2011 Good idea
by: Ruth

I’d be for neutering some humans to ensure they couldn’t breed offspring as ignorant or as cruel as themselves !
But sadly that will never happen as even the dregs of society have ‘rights’

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 23, 2011 Feral, Fertile Cats Are Useful
by: Wildpaw

Human bleeding hearts —

Vultures are God’s creatures too, you know —
Its called the “circle of life”

No “stray” cats need to be euthanized if the humans just let us loose to enter the great circle.

One wonders if you would also be forcibly spaying and neutering humans to keep them from breeding?

And what about all the yummy baby squirrels with no predators to keep their population down?

– Wildpaw

Mar 23, 2011 854 cats
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

The month I adopted Monty from MADACC (Milwaukee animal control) 854 cats were brought in. He actually was not in that number, being brought in the previous month. He was one of the 749 cats brought in in July. On August 1st he was one of the 16 cats adopted. Had I not pleaded with my husband to let me go back for him within the seven day hold period he might have been among the 636 cats killed during that month. It was the last day of his seven day hold. If he was not among the roughly 100 chosen to go out to area shelters, he would have been killed. Possibly that day.

According to MADACC many of the cats put down are not feral. They were obviously someone’s pet. Some are kittens. Although Milwaukee now has TNR, it does not seem that it is making much of a difference in the number of animals destroyed by MADACC. MADACC does not apologize for what they do, stating that there are just too many pets.

In that they are correct. These are pets. Sure some are wild, but they were bred to be pets. They are all, feral and stray alike, companion animals, or could have been.

Spay and neuter operations are very available. There is no reason in today’s world for these pets to be allowed to breed like this. If it were only the ferals breeding, that would be one thing and maybe mother nature would keep the numbers in check. But there is a constant influx of pets breeding adding to these numbers. Pets dumped, pets abandoned, all because the humans wouldn’t spay the momma cat and now they don’t know what to do with the kittens. Or like Monty’s mom– an unaltered pet cat allowed to roam and have kittens under the neighbor’s porch.

Civilized people don’t behave this way.

If Monty had been killed at MADDAC they would have given him a sedative, allowed it to take effect and then injected him directly into his heart with a lethal dose of barbituates. That would have been a tragedy. Every one of those 636 cats who experienced that death is a tragedy.

Don’t romanticize this, calling spaying “gutting a queen.” Grow up. This is real life and real death here and the only answer is for people to spay and neuter their pets.

Nothing should be said here that would make anyone even question the necessity of sterilizing their pets– which by the way, lessens the animals’ chances of getting certain cancers, so it does have a direct benefit for the animals aside from preventing pregnancy.

Mar 22, 2011
by: Brandy

There is nothing natural about the feral cats in the city. They are there cause some careless person got an animal, didnt take care of it properly and then once it wasn’t a kitten anymore threw it out to fend for itself. Now the cycle continues cause of opinions like yours that we should do nothing to stop their suffering.

I personally think that neutering the males is a futile effort and that the focus should be on spaying all the females. This is not cause i think the males would be poorly effected by the procedure but because the real problem is the litters and litters of kittens that happen every year. if only there were enough mice to feed them all, but instead they have to dig through garbages and try to find scrapes of human food that is terrible for them.

There should be more education programs for people before they get a pet. In fact i think a competency test should be involved. There should be no such thing as a feral city cat. We caused this problem and there should be a united front on solving the problem without a mass cull. If there were feral dogs running around that would be a problem that would get attention.

Mar 22, 2011 A Warriorcats oppinion
by: Bramblepaw

Hey Dad I’m mean “Wildpaw” I have to say I kinda agree with ya. I mean sara ever sense we got her nuedered (sorry don’t know how to spell it)
shes been lying around doing nothing and Fidget (a siamese cat) attacks her she runs away. plus I’v seen cloudtail (my cat) try to do it with other cats but nothing happens you know why??

And yes its true that when kittens are born they face hardships but thats nature i don’t think we should interfere with nature. They’re cats they’re born with teeth and claws their little warriors, natural born fighters not some soft fuzzy human toy!!! they know how to fend for themselves. You people are the ones softning them up!! I mean I luv cats and they’re cute but still!!!

Mar 22, 2011 Feral Cats Are Useful
by: Wildpaw

Humans are so arrogant and condencending!
Especially the female human — always wanting to cut some tom’s nuts off, rationalizing that it is ”
for his own good;” or gut some helpless queen ”
for her own good.”

Dream on human, in your misbegotten, egocentric, and ill-conceived “altruism.”

– Wildpaw

Mar 22, 2011 TNR is humane
by: Sylvia

Even the ferals which have to be returned to a place to fend for themselves after spaying are better off only having to forage for food for themselves.
Imagine being pregnant and having to search for food and then having to give birth outside and feed litter after litter of kittens and having to leave them to go and look for food to make the milk to feed them with.
Some mother cats meet with accidents,then their babies die of cold and hunger.
Why allow this to happen when TNR is available and very humane!

Mar 22, 2011 TNR is more than spay and release
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

In my area when you get involved in TNR you take a class and learn how to be a caretaker to the colony of feral cats. You provide shelter, food, and water for the cats, but in conjunction with the spay/neuter. Then the colony is stable and overpopulation doesn’t become an issue. The cats live out their lives in the environment which is their home, with a little help from humans. Allowing more breeding of animals unsuited to survive (due to human selective breeding) is cruel. But, you’re right, it would be more cruel to just alter and put them back. Good TNR programs are much more than that. The cats also get vaccinations and needed medical care. Those who really aren’t feral, but lost or abandoned pets, have a chance to be placed in a loving home.

I have never heard that neutering reduces aggression and therefore chances for survival. My little ex-feral is neutered, but he can be plenty aggressive; more so than any cat I’ve had previously. I don’t like that the neighbors let their little dog roam, because Monty will tear him up given the chance. Monty actually stays in his own yard, with me there, but the stupid dog will run over looking to get his butt kicked by my cat. Ha,ha. Were Monty, God forbid, required to survive on his own, he would do pretty well. He’s a formidable hunter as well.

The thing you should really be angry about is people who declaw their cats. Declawing is the operation that leaves them defenseless, not neutering. Without his claws even the neighbor’s little dachshund could seriously hurt my cat, instead of the other way around.

Also, having litter after litter of kittens isn’t very easy on the cats, especially in harsh environments. I try to see it from the cat’s point of view: I would rather be a spayed feral cat with a human caretaker who provides me with shelter and supplemental food and water than a feral producing litter after litter of kittens, watching many of them die because I can’t provide for them.

Mar 22, 2011 Feral Cats Are Useful
by: Wildpaw

Hmmm – our ears are frozen off in the winter,

yet you are going to torture us more by trapping us, then cutting off our “business”, then release us back into the wild so our ears can still freeze off, plus because you have also remnoved our aggression, the other cats are going to tear us apart.

Sounds like an even more horrible way to die.

No thanks, human — spay and neuter yourselves instead.

– Wildpaw

Mar 22, 2011 I do see your point … BUT
by: Brandy

I know that they do serve a purpose but it is not needed. We are completely capable of setting up mice traps if there is a problem on your own property. I live up in Canada and our winters are terribly cold. a lot of the times the feral cats freeze their ears off or worse don’t make it through the long winter (6-8 months). There is nothing humane about letting them suffer like that. They freeze,there is no water and starve every winter. Not to mention the tomcats are constantly marking their territory on my front door, my patio door and all over my yard. i have kitties inside so they seem to have to make a point to them. Its terrible, I think about all the kittens that die in the fall every year. The unlucky ones born in September.

I eventually want to start a spay and release program to help with the population of feral cats. i cant condone killing them to keep the population down but a spay and release program would really make a difference.

Mar 22, 2011 Oops, typos
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Sorry, I was typing on my phone and I missed the little keys, I meant to say truly feral cats all have their claws and that we have bred cats to our liking.

I know someone will respond that natural selection will aid American feral cat populations, but it’s not possible. Monty’s cat mom was a tiny little pet cat, whom I believe lives across the street. You will always have an influx of genetic material which works against the best survival traits.

I saw a program on tv about these truly feral cats in places where the cats haven’t been selectively bred. The humans welcome having the cats around, and the situation Dr M describes is possible. The cats are truly wild animals who do help humans by keeping the rodent population down. Humans leave the cats alone, but the cats, through natural selection, have been bred for survival, not for human whims. The climate is also warmer.

Mar 22, 2011 Humans already intervened
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Humans bred cats to be companion animals. The feral cats in th U.S. are not the same as true ferals in Turkey and India and other parts of the world. Those cats are much bigger, their coats are limited to colors which actually provide camouflage– and they all have their cats. We have bred cars to be smaller. We have bred cats to have coat colors which provide no cammouflage. And some humans declaw their cats and then dump them or the cat gets out and runs away. We’re not talking about a population of truly wild animals. We’re talking about an animal that has been selectively bred, breeding out some of the traits that would aid in survival, or because of their association with humans they have had their best defences surgically stripped away. So in this way they are not like squirrels, rabbits, raccoons or possums. But we treat the cat worse than we treat those other animals. Though I love Monty, I’ve cried over the fate of his siblings. Two remained wild and are probably dead, since I have not seen them in quite awhile. The others that were caught by animal control were probably killed or are living in a cage somewhere. There are just too many cats. The odds were against them.

I think the possum is also our fault. How did animals so unsuited to Wisconsin’s northern climate get up here? They are practically hairless and they suffer terribly. It’s not unusual to find a dead possum on your property after a cold winter. This has to be the fault of some ignorant humans bringing them up here, though I can’t figure out why.

Yes, through natural processes animals do suffer and die. But that suffering often becomes needlessly exacerbated where humans are involved. The plight of feral cats is one example. But since we caused the problem the kindest thing we can do to fix it is TNR. This is made more difficult by all the humans out there who hate cats and would rather just try to kill them all, which is not only cruel, but impossible.

Mar 22, 2011 The feral cat program
by: Wildpaw

You are are going to do what you are going to do — but just think — who made you (or anyone else) god of the cats?

Its just more busybodies trying to tell the rest of us cats, what to do.

But guess what — Most of us aren’t listening, and in the long run, it doesn’t even begin to put a dent in the greater scheme of feral cat propogation. Thank God for that.

– Wildpaw

Mar 22, 2011 Useful means to use
by: Rose

Doctor your title says it all
Cats are NOT possessions to use,they are sentient beings the same as us.
Why let them breed litter after litter of kittens,some to live horrible lives,some to die horrible deaths,if we can stop that?
I think TNR is the kindest way to keep their numbers under control.

Mar 22, 2011 We will have to agree to disagree
by: Ruth

But some people won’t just let them be, Dr M.
Yes Mother Nature is cruel but so are some people and since we took cats freedom from them we are obliged to be caretakers on her behalf. Left alone cats would have regulated their breeding with survival of the fittest. But we didn’t leave them alone, we domesticated them and made them dependant on us.
There aren’t that many true ferals, most have descended from un-neutered pets that people have abandoned and have had to live rough through no fault of their own. As I said, they are hated and persecuted by some people and to me it’s wrong to let them breed kittens, some of which don’t survive because their mother is starving or ill and the ones that do survive struggle to live their short lives.
I don’t think we have the right to let feral cats breed merely for our own use.
There will never be enough feral cats neutered that they will die out.
I have nursed injured starving feral cats and kittens and I think there is justification to prevent the suffering of more by preventing them from being born in the first place.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 22, 2011 Feral Cats – Useful
by: DoctorM

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, and to act as you see fit.

But I believe human intervention, especuially spaying and neutering, is an unnecessary and expensive effort that serves no actual benefit to the cat, especially if it is returned to the wild to subsequently serve out a purposeless life.

Mating and begetting offspring is THE pre-eminent reason for all higher animals to exist. Removing that capability is the equivalent of forcibly castrating human males, and forceably sterilizing human females — it takes away their dignity, it diminishes aggression — which it in an impaired ability to defend itself, and it places them in the “useless” category in the greater scheme of life.

Cruel? Yes, but it can be argued that it is Mother Nature’s way — the same for all cute things, like baby rabbits, baby rats, baby birds, baby mice, and baby cats.

Mar 22, 2011 Useful ? yes. Right ? no
by: Ruth

A very good argument and I can understand what you are saying, that feral cats are a help to humans.
But what about the cats themselves ? Look at it from their point of view. Is it fair to let them keep on breeding and bringing more kittens into a life of hardship and persecution from people who hate them ? A feral cat’s life is a very short hard life and I believe that neutering as many as possible is the way to go because there will always be more joining them as uncaring people abandon their cats and they have no choice but to join a colony to survive.
People created the problem in the first place and they keep on adding to it.
I think it’s wrong to bring more and more innocent kittens into a world where most will never be as lucky as Monty was to find a good loving home.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 21, 2011 Feral Cats Serve a Useful Purpose
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your comment. But I want to be claear that I do NOT favor spaying and neutering feral cats, or even abandoned cats and shelter-held cats.

When these cats are on their own, their environment limits their population to what that environment can support. There is no need for human intervention. Cats may catch some birds, but by and large they are ground hunters and favor rats and mice. I doubt many squirels or rabbits fall prey to cats.

It is only sad to humans that these beautiful creatures starve and die during overpopulation — largely because other humans feed them. But that is the “law of the jungle” — for every animal, including humans.

Conversly, I DO support spaying and beutering dogs and exterminating feral dog populations — because dog packs, even loose pets, are very dangerous to humans — expecially our children, but even to single human adults.

Feral cats do not pose such a danger.

Mar 21, 2011 I agree
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I don’t understand why people take issue with feral cats, seeing no problem with trapping and killing them. In some places it is even legal to shoot them. We don’t kill rabbits, squirrels, raccoons or possums just for the crime of being wild animals. Possums are just plain ugly but no one is rounding them up, so far as I know. But cats, who are so beautiful, and yes, useful, are destroyed by the thousands every year.

My little guy Monty is an ex-feral. I don’t condone the failure to spay and neuter that caused him to be born under my porch. But I can’t help but be glad it happened! My husband would never have allowed me to have a cat, but even he felt sorry for Monty and let me keep him– knowing that poor kitten probably would be killed or spend his whole life in a cage. Monty brightens our days. He helps me around the house– whatever I’m doing, Monty is there to supervise. So I would say yes, feral cats are useful. Especially the one who keeps me company!

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