Feral and Stray Cats are Killed not Euthanised

by Michael
(London, UK)

Canadian Feral cat - you are better off in the wild - photo by Bruce McKay (Flickr)

Canadian Feral cat - you are better off in the wild - photo by Bruce McKay (Flickr)

I have been led to make this post by Lori Smith, who has written an essay that I hope to publish on this site. She pointed me in the direction of the excellent website, Alley Cat Allies, who have a page about the use of the word 'euthanasia'.

This is something I had not sufficiently picked up on as I am indoctrinated into the acceptable belief that feral and homeless cats are killed humanely as a necessary but unfortunate response to the problem of unwanted cats and cats that are considered a nuisance; feral cats.

Euthanasia is a word that conjures up the humane and gentle release of unwanted cats from this tough world. It tends to make the process acceptable. And I mean the process of killing millions of cats every year in the United States. Do we know how many? I am not sure that we do. I have seen figures between 2 and 14 million.

The trouble is most of these cats are not euthanised. They are outright killed because there is nothing wrong with them.

The dictionary definition of 'euthanasia' is

The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment. - The Free Dictionary

Millions of healthy cat are therefore killed each year. How do we live with this? It is clearly acceptable to people in the USA as little or nothing changes from year to year.

Of all the cats in pounds and shelters in the United States 73% are killed. Twenty-three percent are adopted. Two percent are returned to their owners. These are startling figures from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy Shelter Statistics Survey1. You will be unsurprised to read that almost all feral cats are killed by shelters and pounds. Why don't shelters neuter them and return them?

Forgive me if I have this wrong but it seems that this mass slaughter is a way of life. It is just there, part of the system of cat 'ownership' or disownership.

Humans have a great capacity to make the unacceptable acceptable through the use of euphemisms. For the sake of clarity a euphemism is

The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive. - The Free Dictionary

We use euphemisms in the ghastly world of declawing cats. 'Declawing' is a classic euphemism that completely hides the true nature of this hideous operation, which as we know is the not the removal of the claw as the word suggests.

Alley Cat Allies make the point that the killing of cats in shelters and pounds is the number cause of deaths of domestic cats in the USA (or in the case of feral cats what should be a domestic cat).

They make the very important point too that there is a distinct lack of statistical information. Shelters don't collect data accurately and/or don't release it unless you force them through a formal freedom of information request. Something is wrong. I am also told that shelters don't assist in the collection of data on the abandonment and rehoming of declawed cats. This would be useful information in tackling declawing of cats.

Are shelters perpetuating the killing and declawing of cats in their own interests? I will stop on that provocative note.

Euthanize a cat - how it is done

Michael Avatar

Feral and Stray Cats are Killed not Euthanised -- Source:
1. Alley Cat Allies
Link to original Flickr photo

Feral and Stray Cats are Killed not Euthanised to Feral Cats

Comments for
Feral and Stray Cats are Killed not Euthanised

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 12, 2010 100% No Kill Shelters do exist in USA
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

It is so maddening to see the term 'euthanasure' being convoluted as it has been; however, take heart - there are some very worthy NO-KILL shelters in the USA that really mean it.

Along with the wonderful Alley Cat Allies organization, the North Shore Animal League of America is the world's largest NO-KILL shelter. Please take a moment to peruse their website. The link below outlines their Mission Statement; however, should you visit the Home page and read from there, you will understand just how committed they are in helping distressed animals. This shelter, in union with other like-minded organizations rescue animals everywhere.

I thought you may also appreciate the link to see how they got started. It's rather amazing.

Apr 11, 2010 No mercy - only killing
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Michael, thank you for pointing out how the meaning of 'euthanasia' has moved from mercy killing in order to relieve from incurable suffering into killing in general for human practical reasons.
It's a prime example of how a euphemism works at it's worst by covering up the grim facts. But if instead of 'euthenasia' the term 'mercy killing' had been used, the hypocrasy of those pounds and shelters would probably have been too obvious.
For healthy ferals 'mercy' should mean neuter and return, but all they are offered is the killing. What a shame...

Finn Frode avatar

Apr 10, 2010 Alley Cat Allies
by: Dorothy

Another great article Michael. Thanks for bringing our attention to this fine organization. There was a another article by Lori Smith soon after this one that is also informative. She quotes you and refers to your articles. POC is turning out to be a formidable cat advocacy.

Knowing there are these groups here in the US helps some of us feel less 'paralyzed' about how to help.

Bravo, and keep the stories coming. Education is key.


This entry was posted in Euthanasia, Feral Cats and tagged , by Michael Broad. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please try and 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. Comment rules: (1) respect others (2) threatening, harassing, bullying, insulting and being rude to others is forbidden (3) advocating cat cruelty is forbidden (4) trolls (I know who they are) must use real name and upload a photo of themselves. Enforcement: (1) inappropriate comments are deleted before publication and (2) commenters who demonstrate a desire to flout the rules are banned. Failure to comply with (4) results in non-publication. Lastly, please avoid adding links because spam software regards comments with links as spam and holds them in the spam folder. I delete the spam folder contents daily.