This is the estimated number of homeless cats roaming the USA now. Many were pets that owners no longer wanted so they were dumped somewhere. Even more are second, third or, if they can live that long, fourth generation ‘wild’ or feral cats.
January and February are bad months in Cat Shelters. This is when the excitement of the kitten as a Christmas present wears off and the reality of cleaning up messes and daily feeding and training sets in.
Estimates range from 4,000,000 to 14,000,000 cats being euthanized in the USA each year. That breaks my heart, but people who dump their unwanted kittens really make me angry. What they do is cruel and heartless, leaving helpless kittens or cats to fend for themselves in a harsh and dangerous environment.
And who pays for these shelters and euthanizing all these cats? You do. Even if you are not responsible for the problem.
The majority of citizens would never dream of abandoning a helpless animal. It is those few with no compunction, or consciences, who create this massive problem.
Let’s talk about some numbers for a minute. Let’s make the number of homeless feral cats an even 50,000,000. We’ll make 50% of them breeding females. That’s 25,000,000 cats that can give birth to two litters of an average of 5 kittens each year. That’s 10 kittens per female cat each year times 25,000,000 breeding females. My calculator says that is an extra 250,000,000 extra feral kittens in the environment each year. Then if half of those are female and have 10 kittens per year plus the 25,000,000 females that we started with…… Unfortunately my calculator won’t go that high! In seven years, just ONE breeding pair of cats can produce 450,000 kittens.
This problem is massive. The destruction of the environment and damage to native wildlife and fauna is staggering. Cats eat about 5% of their body weight each day. The diseases spread by these unfortunate animals infect countless cared for pets.
So what can be done. Some states have Trap, Neuter, Return programs. This does exactly what it says. They trap the feral cats, neuter them and then release them back into where they were found as many of these feral cats have created colonies. This could be an excellent method of reducing the numbers of feral cats but there are only so many traps, so many people who help catch these animals and in no way can they make much of an impact on those huge numbers. Also, some vets refuse to sterilize these cats as they don’t want them returned to the outdoors which is not a natural habitat for them. Other conservation groups say the released animals can still decimate the bird and small reptile population and spread diseases.
It costs more than money to euthanize animals and the people who are forced to do this day in day out have a pretty miserable time of it. Many work in the shelters because they love animals, not because they want to have to kill them.
In Australia, there have been discussions on only allowing pet shops to sell neutered animals. The only people allowed to have breeding cats must be registered breeders. Some shires have gone as far as only allowing neutered animals as pets. The jury is still out on this but Australia has approximately 12,000,000 feral cats. Many people try to look after ‘their group’ of feral cats by feeding them and making sure they are healthy. Some risk (and receive) injury in catching them and giving them a bath or getting them to a vet. Some states in America have a bounty on feral cats.
In the small country town where I live a few ladies got together and raised funds to sterilize cats for pet owners for free. The local vet did his bit by only charging a minimal amount to cover his costs. In just a few years, these three ladies had over 400 cats sterilized at no cost to the owners. Perhaps this is something that could be encouraged elsewhere.
This problem is ours. It is of our making. The cats didn’t ask to be abandoned. It is up to us to do something about it. I don’t have the answer. Hopefully I’ve made some of you aware of this problem, make you think about your values. I don’t apologize if I’ve upset you.
If you own a cat, please tell me it has been sterilized. Unless you intend to breed from it. And remember, a cat is for life. Often this will be up to 20 years. And if you love your cat, the love will be returned tenfold.