Feral cats

Saw a mildly interesting article about a feral cat colony on the other side of the county where I live. It was mostly interesting due to the many opinions people had about the cats; the main point of view was from a woman who volunteers her time to participate in trap, neuter, and release operations. (My opinion is, if you’ve trapped the thing, why bother spending the money to spay it when you can just put it down? But maybe there are regulations that make that more expensive, or the volunteers are all bleeding hearts or something.)

The interesting opinion was from someone (sorry, tossed the paper already so I can’t be more specific) who didn’t agree with the releasing of the animals back into the wild, citing predation on other species and the difficulty of living in the wild, presumably in comparison to the cushy life of a beloved domesticated house cat. I’m not so sure either of those arguments are really valid, however. For one thing, in an urban/suburban area, the ecology is its own thing and shouldn’t be compared to “pristine” habitat in any case – if the feral cat colony is preying on rats and starlings, more power to them! Only in places like Hawaii where there are vulnerable prey populations do I really care about cat predation all that much. Humans have a tendency to displace predators – if there’s a predator species capable of coexisting with us, we probably should be glad for it, not argue for getting rid of them. (That was probably the whole point of domesticating the cat in the first place!) The second reason I find the argument against release odd is that hardship in the wild, and dramatically decreased lifespan, is both completely ordinary and to be expected. After all, bobcats in captivity can live drastically longer than they do in the wild. Nature is red in tooth and claw; always has been, and always will be. “Suffering” of the feral cats – which are incapable of being “tamed” to domesticity – means no more to me than the “suffering” of any wild animal whose ancestors have always been wild.

Of course, I regard with disgust anyone who deliberately releases their pets to the wild – why cause ecological harm or the unusual suffering of a domesticated animal, abandoned? But there are sufficient numbers of wild cats (and semi-wild farm cats) that even if no one ever abandoned a pet cat, I think we’d be having such “problems” crop up in any case.

Makes me glad to not own anything but fish. Those are easy to take care of by comparison!


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