For the life of me, I don't get the hysteria surrounding the feeding of community cats.that exists in many communities. The policies in many of these communities is inhumane, cruel, and wildly inconsistent.
Let's say I own a cat. It lives with me indoors.
Then, let's say I decide to just quit feeding my cat. And it gets skinnier and skinnier. If this situation occurred, animal control would come to my door, and (rightfully), write me a ticket for starving my cat -- and, depending on the severity of the case, could send me to jail for animal cruelty.
And yet, in many cases, if the cat lived outdoors, and in my neighborhood, it would actually be ILLEGAL for me to feed the cat. And I could be arrested for NOT allowing it to starve.
So, inside: I MUST feed my cat (this is a good law), but outside I MUST NOT feed the cat. Anyone else scratching their head over this?
Earlier this week, a Liberty, MO woman, Annette Betancourt, was found guilty of feeding feral cats that lived in a wooded area behind her home. Under the city's law, if you feed an animal for more than 3 days in a row in the same place, you own the animal. And, the city has a pet limit of 4. So the city said that by feeding these cats (estimated to be about a dozen cats), Betancourt become the owner of these cats, and was hoarding cats. So, by feeding these cats (and also trapping them, getting them spayed or neutered and releasing them back to the colony so they wouldn't create more cats), Betancourt was sentenced by a judge. Betancourt was only fined for her activity, but could have, under the law, been sentenced to 6 months in jail. For feeding cats.
Betancourt isn't the only person in a Northern Kansas City suburb having trouble with such laws. In Smithville, MO, a family is now challenging authorities after they found a camoflage surveillance camera mounted to a tree that law officials said was being used to catch the man for feeding feral cats in his neighborhood. The family is actually challenging the legality of such an action as a violation of the 4th amendment. The family believes they were being targeted because they had recently spoken out about the city ordinance prohibiting the feeding of feral cats.
Here is what officials need to understand (well, beyond the fact that it is illegal to video record people without a warrant): feral/community cats exist throughout urban and rural landscapes. And Trap/Neuter/Release is the only viable solution to handling the issue.
There are actually several "solutions' -- but none of the rest of them are viable, or humane. Sure, the city could use animal control resources, and taxpayer funds, to trap the harmless animals and take them to their city shelter where they would likely be killed. It's inhumane, and costly, but doable. And while they're at it, they could probably use animal control resource to round up squirrels, and rabbits, and other mammels that live in these neighborhoods. It would be a collossal waste of money, but, in theory, it could be done.
The city could ignore the cats, and not allow people to feed them or spay/neuter them and tend to the colonies. In these cases, the cats would be allowed to reproduce freely and create even more community cats. This of course is a solution, but it doesn't solve anything, and makes the perceived "problem" worse.
Or, they can allow the public to tend to these colonies: provide some basic needs for the cats, and also allow them to alter the cats so they don't reproduce and create MORE community cats. There are many people willing to participate in these programs. They cost the cities nothing, and they keep the community cat populations smaller. And, it's humane. It's a complete win, and the only solution that is a win for any party.
So why are cities still spending taxpayer dollars taking people to court, or installing video cameras, to stop people from actually helping solve the problem?
It's time to quit the hysteria around community cats -- and start working on proving viable options for the cat caretakers in these communities.
Click here for more on Annette Betancourt's case.