Stray cats: time to stop writing and to start doing
I am bored. I am bored reading about feral and stray cats and their impact on wildlife in the United States. I am bored seeing the same old recycled articles – beautifully written – about “too many cats”, “unwanted cats”, “impact on wildlife”, and so on. Sometimes, just occasionally, a journalist is wise enough to conclude that the whole unwanted, excess cat story is not about cats at all, but people.
Yet, even these journalists, who have swotted up a bit about the domestic and feral cat, still don’t have the courage to try and come to some sort of conclusion in their articles.
There is no point in journalists constantly harping on about there being too many cats in the United States and how they impact the environment without suggesting a remedy. Their article makes them a few bucks but what they write is surely half the story. Almost all these journalist-written stories are easy money stories. I don’t know what these guys and ladies get paid; not enough, it seems, because they are not applying their minds to the more difficult task.
The hard bit is working out what to do about stray and feral cats. The hard bit is suggesting a remedy, a cure, something tangible and sensible so that we can report in a couple of years time a positive and uplifting story that is good for cat welfare, wildlife and people. I would like the journalists and cat conservationists to shut up, please.
This post is a request to all journalists who write about cats, to end their stories with a suggestion as to how to chip away at the unwanted cat dilemma.
I believe America has to look across the Pacific Ocean for an answer. I am referring to Australia. Australians tend to do less whining and be more decisive in their behavior. As we know, the root cause of the unwanted cat problem is a relatively small percentage of cat owners who are irresponsible. We have to look at ways to change their behavior.
How do you change the behavior of a small segment of American society? You can ask them to change. That sounds rather pathetic, doesn’t it? We know it won’t work. The next step is to demand change. That is the only step available, in fact. The only way to change a segment of society is by imposing upon them a legal requirement to do something. It is not perfect, far from it but it is effective over time. We shouldn’t expect great results. We should see some improvements.
I have said it before, and not wanting to be repetitive, legislation can change people’s habits even when enforcement is poor. It is a question of time. There are numerous examples. Here are two:
- Seat belts. We know that the police hardly enforce the obligatory wearing of seat belts but people have the habit of wearing them.
- Text Messaging on cell phones while driving is banned in 39 states. It is very difficult to enforce this legislation but it is still in place and it does change habits.
Most cat owners get their cat vaccinated. It is almost a routine. Why not make microchipping obligatory at the same time? The government could pay for it and the extra revenue earned by the veterinarians would motivate them to stop declawing, which incidentally could be delcared illegal at the same time.
I realise that there is a demand to make life financially easier on Americans because of the recession, and to chip away at the country’s debt. This is the same as in Europe. However, the cost of microchipping is low but the potential benefits are high. The overall financial statement of such a change may be positive over time.
Microchipping all cats, or using some other form of identification such as tattooing, would link a cat to his owner, which in turn would place an obligation on the owner to act responsibly in caring for his/her cat. It would be the beginning of controlling cat ownership. Only through controlling cat ownership can some leverage from local and national government be applied to irresponsible cat keepers to up their standards.
Then, one day, there would be no more journalist articles in online newspapers about unwanted cats, feral cats, stray cats and their impact on the bloody environment. The journalists would be compelled to write about people and their impact on the environment, which is where the real problem is.