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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