Is there a genuine difference between the attitudes of the citizens of the southern and northern states of the USA in respect of feral cats? It seems that there might be and if so it is probably a part of the overall cultural differences. It is probably accepted that there is a difference between the attitudes and culture of the people of the south and north.
Is it fair to say that Americans living in the south are more likely to be religious fundamentalists (think: bible belt), less open-minded, less well educated, more traditional etc. compared to Americans living in the north of the country? Southerners are also said to be friendly but northerners sometimes call them rednecks.
In return, southerners call their northern counterparts Yankees. The term “redneck” conjures up images of poorly educated, ignorant, rural poor white people who are likely to treat animals less well than educated people. I am told there is more gun crime in the south. Are there more guns in the south?
How does this show up in attitudes towards feral cats? Well, there are two recent examples.
Marion County, Florida has a cat confinement law and there is a commercial business treating feral cats as pests in Florida. Dee (a regular contributor) who lives in Florida, paints a picture of cat life in Florida which is quite anti-cat (is that fair?) or at least that is the impression I have.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not outlaw TNR but neither does it endorse or support it. Their policy is:
“to protect native wildlife from predation, disease and other impacts presented by feral and free-ranging cats.”
This is not necessarily anti-cat but it hints and prioritising the lives of native species over the non-native feral cat and at the killing of feral cats if necessary. Although, they don’t specifically endorse killing feral cats. However, their policy document originally referred to the ineffectiveness of TNR. It was modified due to public criticism.
In NE Connecticut (one of the New England states) the government has awarded a $175,000 grant to the North-eastern Connecticut Council of Governments for TNR of feral cats. That is a sizeable sum of money for TNR and it is state funded. That seems an enlightened decision and quite rare to me.
Volunteers will be co-opted from a 9-town-area to assist and it is expected that 1,000 feral cats will undergo trap-neuter-return.
Most of the funding will be spent on veterinary fees for neutering and spaying plus any other treatments deemed necessary.
John Filchak, the council’s executive director is optimistic about TNR citing that in areas it has reduced feral cat populations by 55%.
A Connecticut town called Killingly (slightly macabre name) has a proposed law making cat neutering obligatory. You can see a trend towards proactive, preventative steps to reduce feral cat population sizes in Connecticut, which is the only way to make long term progress.
The north and northeast ancestors are Germans, English, Irish and French. The ancestors of the south are Americans, Puerto Ricans while Florida has predominantly German ancestry. The extreme southwest is predominantly Mexican.
The north is perhaps more inclined to take long term humane preventative measures against feral cats while the south is more inclined to be reactive and to consider trap and kill.
Photo top of page: Daria Zeoli via Your Daily Vegan (image modified slightly).