A plan of action is needed for cats

To the editor:

The purpose of my letter is to bring attention to and devise a plan of action to an ever growing problem in our area. That problem is the exploding population of homeless and feral cats.

How did this become a problem? People caused it. Cat owners that let their unsterilized cats outside and they may impregnate other roaming cats or return home pregnant with unwanted kittens. Then they take the cats and their kittens off on a roadway or farm. Some heartless cat owners move away leaving their cat behind outside (It would help to have these people prosecuted and fined and forbidden to own another animal. Then those fines could help fund the solution to a problem they helped create. But I digress). These domesticated cats, if they live, then procreate. Their offspring become the feral cats that never have human intervention or contact and are virtually impossible to domesticate for adoption. This procreation process continues exponentially over time. To give you an idea of how quickly this gets out of control. Here are some statistics to ponder: Female cats as young as 4 months old can become pregnant. Theoretically, an inside cat can give birth to three litters with an average of four kittens per litter per year, in an average lifetime of 15 years. This could result in up to 180 kittens in her lifetime! So you can see how quickly the population of homeless unsterilized cats explodes.

So far, this problem has been addressed by local residents doing what they can to supply food, water and shelter for them. Although this is very helpful and welcomed by the existing population of homeless cats, their actions are only a temporary band-aid and does not address the real problem of the cats procreating. Even if some of these homeless cats could be captured, they may not be domesticated and cannot be adopted or housed in local shelters. Also, shelters are overflowing with cats and cannot accept anymore.

Let me say emphatically that these animals did not create this issue. Humans did! The cats should NOT be held responsible and mistreated for their situation. This is NOT a call to action to start shooting them (which is illegal anyway) or gathering up them up to be euthanized. My goal is to connect with other concerned citizens who want to work together to create and launch a workable plan to alleviate the plight of these homeless creatures and decrease this ever growing problem.

So what is the answer? The solution will not be easy, quick or without cost to solve. However, it can be solved, or at least better controlled, over a period of time with the cooperation, support and commitment of concerned citizens in our community.

There are programs like Trap, Neuter, Release, (TNR) and nonprofit organizations like SNAP (spay and neuter) for PA that will loan the needed traps to capture the cats, neuter/spay and vaccinate them against rabies and distemper for a nominal fee. People from the community get those traps, set them and then monitor them several times a day to avoid starvation, dehydration, cold, heat or vulnerability to predators. Those captured would be transported to a participating veterinarian. Afterward, the domesticated cats are taken to a shelter or adopted immediately.

The unadoptable ones would be released. This, for me, is the tough part. Typically, the feral cats are released back into the same place they once inhabited. So for a time, they would still need fed and given a place to shelter. However, a new solution can be created to solve this problem as well.

There are grants to help with costs for veterinarian services. These grants are only available to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations. I would be willing to help set up such an organization for our area. However, I cannot do this alone! It will take lots of help to pursue this overwhelming but rewarding endeavor. Anyone who is interested in becoming involved and will commit with their time, ideas and/or funding to helping these animals and our community, please email me by December 31st at: help4straycats@aol.com. We will plan a meeting time and place to discuss this further. Without a committed action plan, this situation will only get worse in a very short period of time.

“One person can make a difference. Everyone should try.” -JFK

Teresa Hobbs