The Argument For Euthanising Feral Cats

by Sylvia Ann – Intro by Michael
(USA)

Every Slot Taken.

Every Slot Taken.

I respect all points of view. All points of view should be listened to and if we disagree we should state our case. I am sure that our fine family of cat lovers would agree that.

Sylvia Ann a regular and valued visitor and contributor has written an article in her own style that argues that trap, neuter and return programs are ultimately impractical. She says, "Euthanasia is horrible. But is it more so than condemning a cat to a hard-scrabble life and a slow death?" By euthanasia, she means killing because most of these cats are not suffering to the point where the term "euthanasia" is applicable. Or am I wrong? Euthanasia " refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering..." (Wikipedia). Many feral cats are suffering and they live short messy and unhappy lives it seems. I am not sure. This is itself is a debatable point - meaning are we euthanising feral cats or killing them.

There is, though, a counter argument to TNR in this very imperfect world and a good number of people believe in it, namely, as Sylvia Ann suggests, killing or euthanising them, humanely. I know that it does not work too eradicate the problem because the vacuum created by killing feral cats is filled by more feral cats. But as I understand it, the argument is that is contains or manages the "feral cat problem" (a problem that we created incidentally) in a practical and realistic manner.

And here is the real point: We are already killing feral and unwanted cats by the millions! It is done is an underhand way but shelters kill millions of cats every year. No Kill Animal Shelters.

Personally, I don't agree with this. Better and more widespread TNR with government backing would work but that is probably an impractical suggestion as it is highly unlikely that TNR will ever be done nationwide in an organised manner.

{Note: The photographer of the header photo, by rikkis_refuge (Flickr) says in the caption: Every Slot Is Taken in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living And Psychiatric Center} He or she makes a lot of good points from first hand experience. Here is one:

I bet every one of you would be shocked to know how many facilities that advertise and bring in most of their income by claiming to be no kill, euthanize vast percentages of their animals, by putting them into the unadoptable category. See more of what they say at Rikki's Refuge an animal sanctuary in Orange, Virginia.

Your comments are welcome....

Here is Sylvia Ann's article.


SOPHIE'S CHOICE

Several years ago there was something on the Internet about PETA’s wholesale euthanization of animals (please see Elisa's article: PETA Believes Feral Cats Should be Killed (opens in a new window)). There was also a photo (though dimly recalled) of one of their marches. Some of the protestors looked a mite tacky: nude to the waist, Halloween face-paint, waving their arms and grinning like loonies. Yet PETA’s stance on animal rights, their veganism, their opposition to vivisection, etc. seem laudable.

It goes without saying that animals have as much right to live as we featherless bipeds. A housefly’s life is as dear to the fly as ours is to us. One of the best books of all time is Freddie the Fly – Our Kinship with All Life. Euthanasia is sickening. It’s murder unless the animal is dying.

It makes good sense to know one’s own limit: to know that four or five cats are the most one could reasonably care for. But a problem occurs when this tidy self-knowledge collides head-on with our inborn nature - our dyed-in-the-wool inability to turn away strays that come to our door, pumping the concrete with their small paws, gazing at us in mute supplication, begging for food - begging for mercy.

Unless we can wave a magic wand that prevents that sixth cat from coming our way, here’s where the Choice makes its Grand Entrance. Bottom line: we can’t have it both ways. It’s one or the other. Either we reconfigure our natures – an effort akin to changing the color of our eyes - or the sane and sensible limits that we have set for ourselves bite the dust.

Which will it be? There is no Walt Disney ‘Choice No. 3’ hiding up there in the cumulus clouds or behind that hedge. There are two options, and only one choice. Do we feed our own faces with three meals a day and snacks in between? Or do we whack those cats off the porch? We’re home free if we’re ‘whackers.’ And if we're not - the sinking begins.

If you’re cursed by compassion - condemned by compassion - what do you do? Do you shave your budget so you can make room for an extra cat? Shaving works when there’s only one cat.

But when there’s a dozen - and more than a dozen - you reach for a hatchet and start lopping off what you need to survive. For starters, your health insurance. Heat for your house. A healthful diet: you eat lentils & brown rice (which, come to think, are highly nutritious. Nutritious, but boring.) You give up the things you used to enjoy. You quit going to places you also enjoyed, for the small change of scene they afforded. You postpone home repairs, or try to do them yourself, if you can. You cut back on your gas if you have a car. You hack off small chunks - one chunk at a time - until, in the end, you’re steeped in fear. And the cats keep coming.

Euthanasia is horrible. But is it more so than condemning a cat to a hard-scrabble life and a slow death? Are either of these a happy choice? Some of the cats and dogs down here in this neck of the woods are living skeletons: their face pinched with hunger, their ribs protruding like the hull of a rotted ship.

There are people in these towns who are feeding 80 cats. Veterinarians are asked by their clients to help them find homes for the unwanted cats. But their pleas are in vain. There’s no room at the inn.

The feral cat problem down here is so gruesome, caregivers are frantic. To offer a poor analogy, if a sonogram showed a dozen embedded embryos in the uterine wall, what is a woman supposed to do? She’ll split wide open if she’s too loving to have them aborted, or if she fears that she'll be condemned as heartless, cruel, and terribly wrong not to give birth to her dear little babies. But none of this, in fact, telates to a lack of feeling. The central issue is physical impossibility.

These caretakers’ money is nearly gone from shelling out hundreds of dollars a month to feed the poor starvelings. ‘Well…why don’t they reach out for help? Surely someone in the community will come to their aid?’ That’s what they’ve done, and no one can help. We have TNR groups who work themselves into an early grave. How can they help when they’re overwhelmed? It isn’t that people are selfish and uncaring. The best of the best of them try, and keep trying. But the problem of ferals isn’t a trickle. It’s a thundering torrent.

It goes without saying that TNR is the one and only humane solution. Euthanasia is worse than bad. So is slow starvation. So is the financial collapse of caregivers, some of them as old as the hills. Where is the money to get TNR rolling? Maybe the Troops have an answer to this.

Banged out in haste and sloppily written. Headed out door to buy 400 cans of Friskies for ferals and FF for housecats.

Over and out.

Sylvia Ann

Note... the photograph is of well cared for cats in a refuge. I believe that the person who runs it would not agree with Sylvia Ann. They do euthanise cats however but under genuine conditions where the cat is suffering to the point where euthanasia is justified...Michael

From The Argument For Euthanising Feral Cats to Feral Cats

Comments for
The Argument For Euthanising Feral Cats

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 06, 2010 Kathy W
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

I so appreciate your words of wisdom. Believe it or not, there ARE no-kill shelters in the U.S.A.; however, they vary across the country.

Our local shelter is no-kill, but if we are full and do not have any foster facilities available, we may have to refer to a different one. We give out a list to the public of other area shelters. We let them know that the shelters typed in 'italics' are the no-kill shelters. The others will kill after a period of time.

FYI - a true 'no-kill' shelter may also have the unpleasant job of having to put an animal down, but it is only due to extreme case-by-case scenarios. Examples include: dying animals with no hope of saving (terminally ill with no quality of life; hit by a vehicle and passed the point of saving (after all means to save have been done); contagious/rabid animals; vicious, uncontrollable animals, particularly dogs who, even after behaviorial assessment/tests, cannot be trusted to adopt out.

We recently had to have animal control take a bull mastiff dog to be killed. Our dog volunteers are highly skilled and have expert designations before they can handle the dogs. Although we thought this dog could be rehabilitated (they spent a lot of time with him), without warning he turned on his handler and bit her in the leg. He was quarantined for 10 days whilst a vet behavioralist worked with him. He was found to be food-agressive, so we determined he wouldn't be placed in a home with kids. No sooner was he out of quarantine when a couple days later while another handler was with him, just stroking his head and speaking softly to him, without warning he attacked her and bit her face severly. She had to be rushed to the hospital for a fair amount of stitches. Although we all felt very sad, we just couldn't allow this dog to be adopted out. Someone could be maimed or killed.

Such a sad state of affairs that humans have created for our precious furkids.


Dec 06, 2010 my thoughts
by: kathy w

My thoughts are that all animals are our brothers and sisters. This comes from my Native American background. Im not a vegitarian but Im very picky about how and where and what sort of meat I buy. I will not eat pork, veal, lamb, and Im very picky on my beef. I like to know where it came from and how that animal was treated. I pray over any meat to God and thank that particular animal for giving his life so that I may survive. There still are some farms around here where you can go and get meat that hasnt been tainted by steroids or other crap that those factory farms feed their animal. Eggs too are mass produced. Recently there were salmonella scares in the US over eggs. I like cage free eggs. Some cats tend to survive somehow without human intervention. Some dont, especially those that were thrown out by their owners. My feral cat Mr Grey survived for 2 years before I got him to trust me enough to take food from me. Hes very skittish and hates humans. I believe in TNR and colony keepers. There are many in my area. As far as no kill shelters there are none that I know of. I love all animals, not just cats. The problem with this world are Humans who dont want to share the planet. Pretty soon the whole planet will be covered, itll be dug out hollow, and go off its orbit into outer space. Howll bout that theory!!!! Humans want to control every facet of life and all living things. Native Americans believe that even rocks and trees have souls. So do I. I cry when a tree is cut down. I hate to see landfill areas digging up mother earth for dirt and sand and anything else humans need.


Nov 24, 2010 Where do we start?
by: Leah (England)

I have so much emotion(most of it mixed)about this subject I hardly know where to start. The problem is man made and sadly I wish it was simply about education but sometimes it's down to the fact that some just couldn't care less about whether their cat is neutered or not. I've sadly had first hand experience of this many times.

In the UK our feral problem (correct me if I'm wrong) appears to manifest itself mainly in the inner cities. There are differences and similarities to how the UK and USA approach the issue.

As far as I'm aware our feral cats aren't as game as they are in the states for torture, being shot at etc (well certainly not being shot at!)

There are no laws here to state that they can't be fed.

We have a lot of succesful TNR operations and our shelters only euthanise if the cat is going to die a painful death anyway.

The feral cat colonies I've had experience with in our inner cities don't do too badly. We're not overun as in the states so they tend to live in prime locations near food shops and fast food outlets, people feed them and the ones I've seen look fairly healthy.

I just find it sad that in the states they are shot at, hunted, tortured, starved. They just seem to be fair game for almost anything, they have no value, they are just pests. I'll probably be shot down in flames by you all for what I'm about to say next; I don't agree with PETA and if a feral cat could scratch out a fair existence with or without human aid or without being constantly in fear of his life, have a chance and some quality of life as ferals in the UK appear to have then I would say NO! Euthanasia is not an option! However if I saw a cat that was starving, sick, scared, uneutered and under constant threat if she couldn't be rescued or fed regularly by someone then I would say she should be put out of her misery because thats all she has is a life of suffering.

It breaks my heart to think of a mom cat in such a state trying to look after her babies when she has nothing to feed them with. Most will die, the ones that survive will go on to have no life at all. These poor poor creatures are there because of the neglect of INhumankind. We all do what we can. I too make sacrifices so that I can foster but truly if everyone of us had a little more thought and compassion we wouldn't have such a vast, sad, heartbreaking problem.


Nov 24, 2010 Where do we start?
by: Leah (England)

I have so much emotion(most of it mixed)about this subject I hardly know where to start. The problem is man made and sadly I wish it was simply about education but sometimes it's down to the fact that some just couldn't care less about whether their cat is neutered or not. I've sadly had first hand experience of this many times.

In the UK our feral problem (correct me if I'm wrong) appears to manifest itself mainly in the inner cities. There are differences and similarities to how the UK and USA approach the issue.

As far as I'm aware our feral cats aren't as game as they are in the states for torture, being shot at etc (well certainly not being shot at!)

There are no laws here to state that they can't be fed.

We have a lot of succesful TNR operations and our shelters only euthanise if the cat is going to die a painful death anyway.

The feral cat colonies I've had experience with in our inner cities don't do too badly. We're not overun as in the states so they tend to live in prime locations near food shops and fast food outlets, people feed them and the ones I've seen look fairly healthy.

I just find it sad that in the states they are shot at, hunted, tortured, starved. They just seem to be fair game for almost anything, they have no value, they are just pests. I'll probably be shot down in flames by you all for what I'm about to say next; I don't agree with PETA and if a feral cat could scratch out a fair existence with or without human aid or without being constantly in fear of his life, have a chance and some quality of life as ferals in the UK appear to have then I would say NO! Euthanasia is not an option! However if I saw a cat that was starving, sick, scared, uneutered and under constant threat if she couldn't be rescued or fed regularly by someone then I would say she should be put out of her misery because thats all she has is a life of suffering.

It breaks my heart to think of a mom cat such a state trying to look after her babies when she has nothing to feed them with. Most will die, the ones that survive will go on to have no life at all. These poor poor creatures are there because of the neglect of INhumankind. We all do what we can. I too make sacrifices so that I can foster but truly if everyone of us had a little more thought and compassion we wouldn't have such a vast, sad, heartbreaking problem.


Nov 23, 2010 Who says?
by: Susie Bearder

Who says that feral cats hate their lives, hate the scrabble for food etc the whole issue of being sick and maybe then dying? Yes it is a problem of our creation - but then so often are beggars on streets in poor regions, people who are so hungry they eat anything.... no functioning health systems unless you have the wherewithall; rationing services because there are too many people in the world who don't have dosh, money

It is s small step really and one we know that(WO)MAN has taken before; so, humans next?
I cant remember where I read the Ghandi quote recently about the care a society gives to its animals but here is another from Laurens Van Der Post

''I had so often in the past seen dumb domestic animals in Africa so aware of the secret intent of the people who had bred and reared them and earned their trust that they could hardly walk, knowing they were being led to a distant place of slaughter''


Nov 23, 2010 TNR Education
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

I would also disagree with Sylvia, but I truly sees where she's coming from.

Case in point - our neighborhood was overrun by strays, abandons and ferals only a couple years ago. A major offender was a senior lady up the street that did not understand spay/neuter. Our local shelter has a strong TNR program; they finally convinced her to allow them to trap, neuter and return. The senior was afraid the cats would be killed; therefore, she initially refused to relinquish them. Since the cats' return (about 10 of them), the senior is thrilled, the cat population has shrunk considerably - win/win. I used to have about 6-7 cats at any given time at the back door but now only have 3. We'll see what springtime brings.

Shelter volunteers also grab the feral kittens to socialize them, then put them up for adoption. One volunteer specializes in socialization of adult ferals with fair success.

Ruth hit it right - EDUCATION and PUBLICIZING the problem is how to handle it. In the meantime, feeding these unwanted is a challenge. Through coupons/double coupons, dented tins of food, discount bins of food, discontinued items, even leftovers (like plain rotisserie chicken from the market - no spices) can be used for the furkids. We've even contacted the manufacturers with our plight and some have responded with discounted/free coupons and one manufacturer shipped out dry food to us. It was a new product, so in essence, it was a test, but so what? The label had wholesome ingredients and the cats ate another day. We can only do what we can.


Nov 19, 2010 longterm solution is spay and neuter
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

The question always seems to be between shelters or killing or TNR. Where are the public service announcements educating people about spaying and neutering their pets? We are urged to adopt a pet, we are urged to give money to help homeless pets, but when are we urged to spay and neuter our pets? I never hear or see those advertisements. To me, this is where the money needs to be spent.
Some would say that surely everyone knows to spay and neuter their pets to prevent pregnancy, but it just isn't true. I had a shelter worker tell me of a young couple who had an unaltered male and an unaltered female cat together and were mystified as to where the kittens came from. Even those who do have a brain in their heads fail to spay/neuter for reasons of frugality or thinking if they just keep the cat in it won't happen-- and then Fluffy gets out just one time and here come the kittens. We need to make it socially unacceptable to have an unaltered pet. Show commercials with the horrific images of animals suffering (we have those now) and then give the cause. Bring it home, right onto people's laps, let them know the fault is theirs.
In the 1980's the Reagans had this campaign "Just Say No" to drugs. People laugh about it, but it worked-- drug use went down. When I was a teenager it was socially unacceptable to use drugs. Some kids did, but we called them "dirtballs." So make it socially unacceptable to fail to spay or neuter your pet! It's about time society came down on these dirtballs who let their unaltered cats roam and have babies under other people's porches. (That's how I got my precious Monty, but the rest of his litter mates are probably dead, so it's not totally a happy ending.)
I love the photo, by the way!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.