Last week I had a conversation that stunned me. The person with whom I was conversing is reasonably intelligent. And yet………
The subject: Feral cats. I live in a suburban neighborhood in South Central Pennsylvania. As I am typing this post, I can look out and see neighbors walking their dogs. There are also a few cats roaming around, collars and tags visible. Clearly, they are someone’s pets. My two cats are collared, tagged and micro chipped; they are not allowed outside. There is also a group of cats roaming the neighborhood that belong to nobody.
Last week we took the first of the feral females to our vet to be spayed and vaccinated. There’s another female and one male in the wings, waiting their turn. A large dog crate is set up as a recovery area in our garage, which I clean and restock with food and water each day, until next week when I can release her back into our yard. The cost of this endeavor will mean our beach vacation fund is gone.
The conversation went something like this:
“Well yeah, I did notice some cats out back. So you’re saying you had a neighbor’s cat spayed?”
“No. The cats are feral.”
“Didn’t your vet check to see if they have chips?”
“Yes. The cats are feral.”
“How did they get here?”
“They were either dropped off by someone who didn’t want them or they were born to a feral mother.”
“Don’t they have collars and tags?”
“No. The cats are feral. They have never had human contact except for me. I had to work really hard for many months to get them tame enough to get them into a carrier and take them to the vet.”
“Why didn’t you just let them go? Someone would take them in.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice? I hope that happens. Until then, each female can have about 3-4 litters of kittens a year, with 2-8 kittens per litter. That’s lots of cats for people to take in. If they remain outside the kittens that survive will eventually start to reproduce. And right now the SPCA in our area has about 600 cats waiting for homes.”
I’m not doing this because I’m some selfless patron saint of cats. I’m doing this because I do not relish the idea of netting drown kittens from the bottom of my pool. I do not wish to clean up the remains left after the raccoons have their nocturnal feast. I’m doing this because my two cats, my beautiful spoiled pets, were the only two we were able to rescue out of the 29 kittens (that we are aware of) their wild, unapproachable mother gave birth to in the year she roamed the fields behind my parent’s house.