TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA, USA. NEWS AND COMMENT: This is an interesting story about the positive effects of TNR in a Florida community but at the same time also highlighting the diverging viewpoints of residents of the community about the presence of feral cats. As usual, you could divide Americans into two camps with respect to feral cats: those who are sympathetic towards them and those who find them irritating. This Tampa Bay man, Andres Santana, falls into the latter category but he quite nicely says that he has no personal animosity against the people feeding and sterilising the cats. He says that they are nice people and he’s got nothing against them. He is impressed by their patience but he gripes about his car:
You spend $50, $80 getting your car detailed. Next thing you wake up, you got paw marks, hair, scratches all over your car.
I think he is exaggerating a little with the “all over your cat” description! He called Animal Control but they asked him to get a trap and said that there is not much else you can do. The point is that he shouldn’t do anything but accept the good work that the TNR volunteers are doing and get his car re-detailed 🙂 . Maybe he should put a cover over the hood of his car as that is where cats like to sit for the warmth?
As Sherry Silk, the CEO of Humane Society of Tampa Bay, said, “It’s okay to feed outdoor cats. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can’t get in trouble for doing it. But the cats do have to be sterilised”. She is referring to feeding community cats as part of a controlled TNR program.
When Hillsborough County Animal Control visited Mr Santana’s neighbourhood they found six or seven feral cats all of which had been spayed or neutered. Everything is in order because the population is declining. The system is working and nowadays neither the county nor the Humane Society will euthanise feral cats. Sherry Silk tells us that the feral cat population continued to drop since the TNR program started. She is right when she says, “I think we should thank the people who care because it’s society’s problem. It’s not the cats’ problem that they were allowed to breed”.
The residents of the neighbourhood say that they do feed the feral cats when and if they arrive at their home and Santana said that sometimes he has seen fifteen or twenty of them, some of them popping out of palm trees and tropical plants. Clearly the weather is very suitable for cats living in the charming, Florida urban environment.
If Mr Santana is suffering from the odd scratch on his car he should be thankful that people are dealing with the problem humanely. If he wants to blame anybody it should be the people who abandoned their cats in the long gone past and not the good people who are dealing with the problem in a decent way in the present.