Is anyone feeding stray cats to keep rodents down?
Occupy DC camp - rat paradise - photo by Glyn Lowe Photos. Note: I support the Occupy protestors.
There are a lot of people feeding feral cats as part of a TNR program. Or they feed stray and feral cats just because they are kind people and they can't walk on by when they see starving vulnerable cats. They help the cats.
Feeding stray cats does bring problems sometimes. Some neighbours don't like it and you will attract more cats. Where there is food cats follow. Then some of the cats might mark the area as part of their territory so you have urine smells. Maybe one or two of the cats will frighten your cats! And so on. There are complications, which increases the burden on the person doing the feeding. It is a one way process. The person is giving and the cats are taking.
But if we turn the clock back to the origins of the domestication of the cat, the original foundation stone of the cat/human partnership is a two way street: it is meant to be beneficial to both parties. Theatre cats are a classic modern example.
The cat gets some food so life is a bit easier. The person gets a rodent catcher. Most small wild cats prey on rodents, small mammals, as a primary prey item. That is why the African wild cat was first domesticated.
It might be useful to go back to basics in order to renew the relationship that we have with the domestic cat. That relationship is arguably a failure in general terms.
Is there anyone doing what people were doing 10,000 years ago and feeding stray cats so that the rodent population in the area is kept down? I know some farmers do this but how commonplace is it?
As I recall, you never see people mentioning this aspect of feeding feral and stray cats. If a neighbour complains about stray cats they say that the cats cause a mess and attract wildlife etc. In defence the people feeding the cats hardly ever say that they are doing the neighbourhood a service - keeping the rodent population down.
There are numerous places where the stray cat could be of service; where feeding stray cats could be part of a two way process of mutual benefit. I will take one example.
Apparently there is "rat population explosion" at the Occupy D.C camps at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza. The rats are obviously attracted to the kitchens set up at the camps and the food left lying around.
Why hasn't someone brought in a couple solid, unneutered male stray cats from the local sanctuary? I am sure they would clear the rats. The hard part would be keeping the cats at the camp but where there is food there are cats! The cats should stay. Done in a controlled way this would be good for the camp and good publicity for the maligned stray cat.
Maybe there is an argument that says we should stop complaining about the feral and stray cat population and think more about going back to basics; the reason why the cat was domesticated in the first place.
In order to find an answer to a problem, the best starting point is to go back and ask basic, fundamental questions and proceed from there.