If cats could play hockey, I could field a full string on the ice with my crew. Its a popular dumping spot for cats out here and I suspect there is something on my mailbox that only cats can read.
Out of my six, only one was adopted from a shelter.... my mighty little mini Morgan, who came from SHAID three years ago. At the time, I was already at my firm (haha) four cat limit. But in the course of researching the background to build the homeless pet site, I stumbled on her story in the very well done SHAID newsletter and actually drove all the way over to Bridgewater to adopt her!
As statistics go, I'm actually pretty close to the mark. In a survey conducted in 2008 for the Canadian Veterinary Journal *, when people brought home a cat:
- 24% came from friends and family
- 17% were adopted from a shelter
- 16 % took in a stray
- 14% went the 'free to a good home' route
- 11% were offspring
- 9% came from a pet store
- 5% were listed as other , and
- 5% more came from a breeder
Stray cats are really dependent on good luck and good will. For every Oscar that finds a welcome, there are many more that don't live to tell the tale. But I don't want to wander afield into an oft repeated list of Unsung Unhappy Tails.
Any meaningful solution for the cat population explosion has to address the issue of stray cats. Most TNR groups are already overtaxed and rarely have the resources to address all the feral cat colonies. While they would love to help, its not realistic to expect assistance there.
Nor do most Animal Controls in the province take in strays. In most instances, unless they are injured or engaged in nuisance behaviours, strays fall outside of their thinly stretched mandate. Added into that mix is the common perception that all cats that AC pick up are killed, and its easy to understand why kind hearts wind up with their own little stray cat colonies.
Isn't kindness a good thing? Of course it is. Its not humane to let the cats starve. People who take in strays are actually providing a community service that should be acknowledged with spay neuter assistance from their municipality. It should be a standard thing that anyone could access through any animal clinic in the municipality.
Would that solve everything? Of course not. It wouldn't keep people from dumping strays .. but it would help keep kind hearts from getting in over their head and needing intervention. Intervention, I might add that would ultimately involve AC and be a much bigger headache than spay neuter chits.
Even better, it would improve the chances for strays to find a safe berth. In this day and age, not everyone can afford the spay, hmm?
Best of all, like TNR, it would reduce the nuisance behaviors that require intervention from animal control and culminate in so many Unhappy Tails.
Why do people take in strays? Because they actually see their sweet little faces. ( we'll get back to that subject in another post ...lol )
Nobody has to go to a shelter. Noone has to fill in an application or provide references. Its simple and its easy for people to do the kind thing.
What time is it? Its time to recognize that spaying and neutering strays isn't just keeping animals out the shelter system, its a sensible way to create healthier communities.
* Perrin, T. (2009). "The Business of Urban Animals Survey: The facts and statistics on companion animals in Canada," Canadian Veterinary Journal, 50(1): 48–52.