Happy National Feral Cat Day!
A time to remember the countless numbers of dumped, abused, unwanted cats who, through no fault of their own, are forced to survive in the wild.
Many communities are not kind to feral cats. They are labled nuisance animals and targeted in mass roundups, like the one going on right now in North Charleroi, Pa., that will likely result in mass euthanasia.
In Alabama, the state veterinary medical board fearing competition, recently tried to outlaw low cost spay/neuter clinics - the very charitable facilities that help control feral cat populations and help prevent future ferals by treating those cats in homes where families cannot afford the retail rates. A national outcry halted that plan.
The American Bird Conservancy used a University of Georgia study that tracked outdoor cats via "kitty cams," to claim that cats are responsible for wiping out songbird populations.
The figure used by the anti-cat lobby is one billion birds a year.
Joel Best, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, used that very example in a recent seminar aimed at encouraging reporters to be more critical about faulty statistics.
Here's how he explained it:
There are 71 million cats in the United States. In order to account for one billion bird deaths, each cat would have to kill 14 birds a year - including those cats that live indoors.
Elsewhere they are cared for and nurtured in healthy colonies like the celebrated cats of the Atlantic City boardwalk. The borough of Steelton, east of Harrisburg, received an award from the national feral cat advocacy group, Alley Cat Allies for their humane treatment of feral cats.
Alley Cat Allies created National Feral Cat Day® in 1991 to promote humane care for these forgotten animals.
This year National Feral Cat Day participants are helping more cats than ever, promoting 370 events nationwide focused on changing communities for cats.
Because virtually all feral cats who end up in shelters are euthanized, ACA supports the strategy of Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR). That means using a humane live trap to catch cats, take them to the vet for shots, spaying or neutering and returning them to the place where they lived.
Caring for TNR cats, which entails little more than providing some type of shelter, food and water, is easy with community support. (I'll take a minute here to plug a nifty new - and affordable - outdoor cat house I discovered by K&H products. It's made of heavy duty nylon, so it's light and waterproof and easy to put together. It comes with a sleeping pad and two openings so a cat won't feel trapped by a predator. A heated version also is available.)
To learn about caring for feral cats, community support services, webinars, events, research and awards, check out Alley Cat Allies' National Feral Cat Day website.