A law that forbids feeding community cats is counter to conscience

Photo by Elizabeth Izzo
Photo by Elizabeth Izzo
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Plattsburgh, NY: The councillors of Plattsburgh have decided to vote down a proposed law forbidding the feeding of community cats. It was a close call: 3-2.

The issue of feeding of feral cats (aka community cats) is often discussed in city councils in the US. This is because it is an issue which impacts the quality of life of residents.

And it divides residents because it reflects the attitudes of citizens towards the presence of feral cats in the neighbourhood.

A large proportion of people want rid of them. They don’t mind how it is done. I can understand that. It seems that their desire for action subdues their morality (if they have it). However, others are sympathetic to the plight of unwanted cats wandering around the neighbourhood. Their conscience compels them to be tender towards animals. They realise that it is not the cats’ fault that they are in an unhappy position of being unwanted and without a human caretaker.

Clearly it is the fault of irresponsible cat owners. We know this is the root cause. For many their conscience cannot allow them to ignore the suffering of animals. Therefore to create a law which prevents them expressing their conscience through actions is inhumane and unacceptable.

By a narrow majority the councillors accepted this argument. I understand the pressure that city councillors are under. They are lobbied by their electorate to do something about feral cats. Feral cats generate strong feelings. A lot of people simply hate them. The want to kill them. They want to ‘protect their property’ from ‘smelly feral cats which spread disease’. There is a strong sense of property ownership in the US.

Councillors have a duty to represent their constituents. So they propose laws to stop feeding these cats because feeding them encourages more irresponsible cat ownership and more feral cats. It also attracts wildlife unless feeding is done in a controlled way.

But at the end of the day, a law which runs counter to the consciences of the majority of residents in a city cannot be passed. Law must be moral. Law is based on morality. The Plattsburgh councillors made the correct decision. I am surprised that it was by such a narrow margin.

They’ll have to find an alternative way forward. In my view, this will mean (1) controlled feeding and (2) employing imaginative ways to tackle the root cause of the feral cat problem by improving cat ownership standards and (3) instigating a more extensive TNR program part funded by the city. Do all three in parallel and you’ll see an improvement and it will satisfy the consciences of all.

Page source: suncommunitynews.com.

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1 thought on “A law that forbids feeding community cats is counter to conscience”

  1. If the only option is to kill the feral then cooperation will never happen. I have had feral feral feral cats that I was quite fond of. TNR can and does reduce the feral / stray population in a humane sane way and it allows anyone to contribute to their care without the guilt of helping to bring more unwanted kittens into the world. Sadly AC and other government entities want to regulate behavior only and not tap into human psychology to get cooperation. The WGA Western Governors Association declared feral cats an invasive species. I started a thread here and let them know on their FB page what I thought about it. This kind of action is not conducive to controlling a 100% man made problem nor is it going to be good for any house, stray, outdoor , community or outright feral that meets up with a cat hater with new validation under their belt to kill ,poison and just in general be mean to cats. Yes I am on a soap box…why do you ask ?

    I posted this on another site. The most common theme of all the kill feral cats arguments is the failure to address the issue of where they came from in the first place in terms as harsh as cat haters give for exterminating feral cats. We can never even begin to abate the population of abandoned and born feral felines if we do not go after those that will provide fodder for cat haters to kill over and over. It will be an endless cycle of just killing.
    If you ever have to call an exterminator for bugs or rodents the first thing they do is try to identify the source of the problem not just lob poison and traps all over.

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