A growing number of animal advocates and local communities are stepping up efforts to curb the overpopulation of cats by offering low-cost or free spaying and neutering. Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says a number of factors are contributing to the booming cat population, including a rise in pet ownership that often leads to cats being abandoned, more suburban yards that provide ideal habitat for feral cats and fewer stray dogs that chased or killed cats in the past.
The article reports from various cities as they face the same challenge. The Cat Network of South Florida was also quoted. (To read the complete article, scroll down to end of this posting).
Adding my own two cents, I would add that other definite factors are lack of knowledge of the responsibility of caring for a kitten or cat; the dismal economy; and sheer ignorance of owners who dump their cats into the streets. They may or may not know the exponential birth rate that results from thie irresponsibility of leaving their once indoor or protected cat to the unknown surroundings of the dumping site.
Again, as I continually preach, we need to get to the root of the problem through EDUCATION and COMMUNICATION. Low cost spaying and neutering addresses the surface problem but not the root of it.
Like a faithful preacher, I never fail to bring up my efforts when meeting or talking to strangers, in line at the grocery store, at a function, any place, any where. Word of mouth costs nothing.
In the process, including this blog, I pray for someone or some organization to step forward to help with a comprehensive, full-scale, marketing campaign with billboards, Public Service Announcements in TV and radio, print ads, etc., to educate the public to spay/neuter their pets AND STRAY CATS. If you feed a stray cat, please have it spayed/neutered. If not, it leads to animal cruelty. Videos for example would show how half of stray kittens die before eight weeks of age. The adults fight for survival. While some stray cats are feral, if you feed it, in a sense, it's your cat. Obviously you care for the kitty so he and she do not starve. It's impossible to order humans not to feed cats. A former Miami Beach mayor learned that lesson the hard way. He says "If there's one important lesson in politics, it's never mess with cat people". It's human nature to offer food to a hungry human, a starving animal.
There are professionals for hire who will do all the work of T-N-R (Trap, Neuter, Return) including feral or wild cats. A person will come out to your neighborhood or place where you feed a colony of strays, trap the cats, take them to the vet for surgery (neuter/spay), care for them post surgery and then drive back and return them to their home environment. Yes, it can be done for feral cats. It's done all the time.
But when I mention the average cost of $70 per cat, suddenly these individuals don't have the money. Yet earlier I overheard their conversations of the single guy who "goes out every weekend with friends" drinking and dining, the outfit she bought but never wore costing a day or week's paycheck, and the number of non necessities we spend on daily. They are animal lovers to the point of not crimping their budgets for indulgence. It breaks my heart. They mean well by feeding the cats, but are part of the problem at the same time.
What is an animal lover? A topic for another blog post.
Some of you grew up with Bob Barker from the Price is Right game show as I did. He was the only celebrity who regularly reminded us to "help control homeless pet population, spay and neuter your pets".
We need a new Bob Barker! A handsome or gorgeous, articulate celebrity to be the voice for the voiceless, homeless cats. Who will fill that critical post, vacant for over a decade???
If you know of someone to be that angel or hero to overcome this epidemic in South Florida, I would love to hear from you!
p.s to read the rest of the USA Today article, CLICK HERE.