In dealing with too many feral cats you need to focus on people not cats. This is essential to solving this long standing US problem.
This story sheds some light on the realities of living with feral cats in the US. Catherine Hollenbach of Bayonne, New Jersey has complained that she is spending her retirement chasing and getting feral cats off her property.
Kathleen O’Malley the president of the Hudson County Animal League has some fancy ideas about keeping cats off properties but none of them are going to be genuinely effective. They include putting chopsticks in the ground. Who is going to do that? Realistically speaking, they are not going to work and I am sorry to say it’s a rather feeble suggestion. Bold, brave steps need to taken. Not nibbling at the problem around the edges.
In any case the cats are still there, but just somewhere else. Someone else has to deal with them. You can’t simply push feral cats around, you have to deal with the feral cat problem at a far more profound way by getting to the source of the problem and changing human behavior.
Kathy Henderson, the head of the Bayonne Feral Cat Foundation believes the feral cat problem in the area is out of control:
“Most of these cats are actually stray house cats,” Henderson said about the feral cats. “People are dumping their cats before moving and after having babies.”
It has always surprised me that all the work done on containing the feral cat problem in the US is reactive. It is focused on the cats. Trapping and neutering or killing them. It is all cat focused.
The focus needs to be on people. Their behavior. People need to be far more responsible in their attitude towards cat ownership. This would tackle the problem at root. Local governments need to think out of the box and consider laws (and their proper enforcement) which encourage or even force people to become highly responsible cat guardians.
You can start with mandatory microchipping. If that was in place the people who have abandoned their cats as described by Henderson could be brought before the criminal courts and punished. The punishment should be a big fine and a ban on keeping all companion animals for life. Then you’d begin to see a gradually reduction in the number of feral cats in Bayonne. This half-backed reactionary response won’t do.
Story: New Jersey.com