"If gas chambers are such a horrendous means of death that they haven’t been used on America’s hardest criminals since 1999, why are they still being routinely used as a form of humane euthanasia on homeless animals in shelters today?" Elizabeth Wilson
Cobb County Animal Control saw record high give-ups and turn-ins this summer including feral and stray cats. Stray cats, lost or abandoned pet cats differ from ferals cats in that ferals are born and raised independent of people and tend to be wary of us while strays are comfortable with people and have come to depend on us.
Author Vicky Hall describes in vivid detail the life of the outdoor cat in her book THE SECRET LIFE OF YOUR CAT. Outdoor cats often belong to a colony, a matriarchal cat family with the eldest mother cat as the dominant figure. Like elephants, the female cats stick together helping to care for and protect each others' young. Some males leave the colony when they reach sexual maturity while some prefer to stay close to the colony and also participate in feeding the colony and caring for the young and protecting the family from predators.
So why would anyone want to turn feral cats into animal control where they will surely be killed? Feral and stray cats help to control rodent and insect populations in our neighborhoods keeping the unwelcome pests under control. Rodents carry and transmit a host of diseases, some fatal. The Center of Disease Control lists these most common diseases directly transmitted by rodents and their droppings:
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
South American Arenaviruses
The safest and most effective way of keeping the rodent population under control in your area is to LOVE THY FERAL AND STRAY CATS. Understand and appreciate that these cats are here to help. If there were not a food source in your area, namely rodents, they wouldn't be hanging around your neighborhood. Feral cats are very self sufficient. Unless the cat is injured or ill it does not require your intervention. LET IT BE.
Most people don't realize that relocating cats will endanger their lives. Less than 50% of relocated cats survive the relocation. Releasing cats in a different area constitutes animal abandonment and is a crime in the state of Georgia. Release the cat in the same place you trapped him if you take him to be neutered. Ensuring that all of the cats are neutered will allow the colony to decrease rather quickly. The cats should not be fed at peak hours to help them maintain a low profile. The more people see cats, the more people will lodge complaints.
Catlanta Lifeline Animal Project, among other local resources, offers greatly discounted spay/neuter and vaccination packages for feral cats for as little as $15.00. Because ferals are afraid of people, trapping is usually the only way to catch them. The Catlanta program functions as a resource for people wanting to implement TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs in their neighborhoods, businesses, or other areas of interest. The cats are trapped, neutered and vaccinated, and released back into their neighborhood. A humane way to control the number of cats in your area without sending them to the county death chamber. Catlanta provides traps, trapping instructions, and a vet staff to fix the ferals and strays. More detailed info on Catlanta Lifeline Animal Project here: http://www.lifelineanimal.org/catlanta.
Do not try to tame the feral cat! They are better off wild with a healthy dose of fear regarding people, which will keep them alive longer. Living outside is what they are used to, and they will be much happier that way. If you can catch kittens between 4-8 weeks old, they can usually be tamed. However, do not attempt to tame them unless YOU can commit to providing a permanent home for them if no suitable other home can be found. Too many people tame kittens and find themselves stuck with a litter they cannot find homes for. Older cats are almost impossible to tame and will probably never be adoptable animals. Most rescue groups are always over capacity, and skittish cats are extremely hard to find a home for, take up shelter space, and prevent other tame cats from being saved.
Common Concerns about Outdoor Cats and How to Address Them (the solutions are most effective when several are implemented at the same time) as shared by Catlanta Lifeline AnimalProject.
Do the cats pose a health risk? A Stanford study found virtually no risk to human health or safety from feral cats. Similarly, research at the University of Florida found that feral cats and owned cats share similar health status, confirming that the cats do not pose a risk to public health or to other cats. People sometimes worry about rabies, but this is unjustified. Cats are not natural carriers for rabies. There has not been a single human death from rabies attributed to transmission from a cat in the USA in over thirty years. Also, as part of a TNR program, cats are vaccinated against rabies and then provide an immune barrier between humans and wildlife in the community. Furthermore, the British Medical Journal states that: "contact with cats, kittens, cats' feces, or cats who hunt for food was not a risk factor for infection. . . for toxoplasmosis.” The study concludes that eating undercooked meat is the primary risk factor in contracting toxoplasmosis.
Are feral cats dangerous? Feral cats are naturally wary of people and will not approach humans they do not know. Feral cats will not attack anyone unless they are cornered. Never touch or corner any animal you are not familiar with. Parents and caregivers should teach children to not approach or touch any unknown animal.
Rubbermaid bins will kill the cats! Most feeders who use Rubbermaid bins for food and shelter eventually find that their colonies get trapped and killed. Even store/property owners who seem to like the cats and have always been supportive change their minds and have the cats killed. It happens here in Atlanta every day. We tell feeders this all the time, and sadly many of them don't take it seriously, until they call us to tell us the cats are being removed. By that time, there is little that can be done to save the cats.
If cats are sleeping under a house or in a shed, they are seeking a warm, dry, safe, shelter from the elements. Meanwhile, physically block or seal the location the cats are entering with chicken wire or lattice when you are sure the cats are not there.
More local resources for feral cat TNR programs:
For more detailed information on the diseases listed here follow this linkhttp://www.cdc.gov/rodents/diseases/direct.html.
"When you put a dog into a metal box and suck the oxygen out of it while he’s conscious, and they scream, and they cry, and they claw, and they try to get out; that to me doesn't sound anything like humane euthanasia." Kim Kavin