The Problem With Feral Cats In The U.S.

by Elisa Black-Taylor

Casper on January 20

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Casper on January 20

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Good morning readers. This is one of my articles that I guarantee will both make the readers mad and give everyone a headache. As everyone here knows, feral cats are a large part of my research. Probably because I've had a lot of experience with them over the years.

I've come to realize lately just how much feral cats are despised in our society. Sure, we in the U.S. have TNR programs. But the uniformity of those programs leaves a lot to be desired. What's acceptable and encouraged in one part of our country is literally a punishable offense in another.

I titled this article The Problem With Feral Cats In The U.S.. This doesn't really begin to explain the situation and is a bit misleading. Because I don't believe the problem is the feral cats themselves, but the way our government perceives them.

While some parts of the country participate in TNR programs, other areas will throw a person in jail for feeding a feral cat.

As with animal abuse and punishment, the laws are too widespread, too outdated, or just plain wrong.

Let me explain. First I'd like to talk about an issue happening right now in the Florida Keys. For more on this issue, please see -- the URL is broken and removed April 2013, sorry -- as it tells who to contact to prevent this from happening.

In a nutshell, the government over the Florida Keys once again wants to simply trap and kill feral cats according to shelter policies. It's not that they don't like feral cats. It's more a problem of misguided government in that area. The officials there believe the feral cats in the Florida Keys are a threat to the wildlife there and should be eliminated. They plan to do this by trapping the cats, taking them to the shelter, and killing them.

The cats are NOT the major cause of wildlife death. As with most areas of the United States, man is the cause. We are simply moving into the animals territory and it's upsetting the natural balance of things. So the government really needs to stop blaming it on the cats and focus on the real problem-humans.

Florida has tried this approach in the past and it has failed.

Many people complain of all of the problems that come from feeding stray and feral cats. There are responsible ways and irresponsible ways to feed these cats. Most experts recommend putting out canned food as there is less likelihood of attracting animals other than cats. Dry food, while less expensive, may attract possums and raccoons.

Also be sure to clean up behind yourself. Don't leave empty cans laying around everywhere. Don't give business or home owners in the feral neighborhood another reason to complain by being a litterbug.

For anyone who complains about feeding ferals saying it will increase the population, kindly let them know they are mistaken. In the real world, weak and starving cats are just as likely to mate as healthy cats. You may be the only one making a difference in that cats life. Especially during the winter months.

For those who complain about ferals getting into garbage cans behind businesses and gardens in residential neighborhoods-so what! Man has always created much more litter than a feral cat.

Did you know it's illegal to feed feral cats in many areas of the U.S.? I found a case a few weeks ago of an elderly man who was arrested back in September 2010 for feeding stray cats. I can't find the reference for this case, but I found a similar one, which occurred in 2006. Michael made a earlier post on a similar subject about an elderly lady in West Hollywood.

Grand Saline is a city in Van Zandt County, Texas, United States. The population was 3028 at the 2000 census.  A grandmother named Caroline was arrested there in 2006 for feeding a colony of stray cats. Not only is there an ordinance against the feeding of strays, but those captured by the city are taken to the shelter and killed. It's much the same situation as what's happening in the Florida Keys.

Before her arrest, Caroline had managed the feral colony under her care and all of the cats had been TNR. Thanks to the trapping ordinance only one or two remain. The cats that "replaced" those cats are now multiplying like crazy since TNR is also banned.

On the flip side of the coin we have laws that punish those who harm cats. Forcing a cat into starvation is murder. Trapping a cat and taking it to a shelter to be euthanized is murder.

I don't know about the readers here, but a government that allows an animal to starve where there are volunteers willing and able to help should be held accountable. I just don't understand how if starvation happens to a cat in a home the owner can be charged. Yet it's legal to allow an animal in the wild to starve and anyone who tries to help can be arrested.

This kind of mentality toward feral cat colonies must change. Killing is not the answer because more cats are waiting to replace those trapped and killed. Arresting the caregivers is downright cruel. Shame on any city who has the nerve to arrest a citizen for having a heart. I think it's horrible that the U.S. government has nothing better to do than lock up grandma and grandpa cat people.

What is this world coming to? I'm with Michael. Some days I think the human population has gone crazy.

I'll continue to feed any cat I think is hungry. I hope the readers here will do the same.

How do the readers feel about feeding ferals when feeding them could lead to arrest. Would you do it? I certainly would. And Michael (PoC) will be waiting to bail me out of jail. Um...right Michael? (Comment: I'll be right over on the first flight"....Michael)

Yes, feral cats are one of my main issues, just as others are champions in the fight against declawing. I want to share some photos with you. My newest rescue is a feral. I'm slowly getting him to trust laying with Mandy. He has a lot of socializing to learn. I want everyone to see what one week of food and love can do to change a cat's life. How dare anyone tell us it's wrong to care for a stray!



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The Problem With Feral Cats In The U.S.

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Jan 31, 2011
Yes I would
by: Colleen

Yes I would feed feral cats, even knowing I'd be arrested. We don't seem to have any in our neighborhood that get close enough, but I would put out food for any of them! Bravo, Elise!

Jan 30, 2011
The government here
by: Elisa

The government in the U.S. seems to have taken the attitude to destroy anything it doesn't want to find funds to pay for. This is also holding true with humans. Social Security won't give old people a raise so without their medicine they'll die and they can't afford medicine without the raise. Medicaid is being cut and many people are dying because they can't afford treatment. The cats are treated much like the elderly. The attitude to get rid of them if they're going to cost money is almost identical. It makes me wonder what this country is coming to. All the while the government leaders keep making more and more money for being good at depriving the average citizen of enough food to put on the table. This in turn trickles down to the cats. With more and more being abandoned because the owners can no longer afford to feed them. Even the food banks in the U.S. are now serving those who used to donate to the hungry. And it's not necessarily the lower class. The middle class is also suffering with no end in sight. I'm now at a standstill with my rescue because I can't afford to feed more than 10 cats. I have the room but not the money to care for more and I think that is sad.

Jan 30, 2011
Another Great Article
by: Michael

This is another great article Elisa. You have become a USA feral cat expert.

The truth seems to be that the USA does not know how to deal with the feral cat and is not prepared to do the right thing and the hard thing and solve the problem at source. All the policies are reactive, mopping up the mess in a half-cock way.

This is because the USA has lost its way. It is mired in debt, Calif is broke, there are no funds to do the right thing such as educate, there is a lack of coordination through federal law making and national lawmaking is mired in the unworkable process of US government. Change hardly takes place. One law is introduced and then repealed.

Sorry if that sounds like USA bashing. It is not meant to be. America is a great country that I like and that has gradually lost it way. The feral cat problem is just one symptom.

USA has to go back to basics and first stop cranking up debt! Stop being consumers and borrowing to feed that. Think long term. The UK is the same and people here just don't want to face reality...Phew..

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