EWN 26/08: A Responsible Approach
This is my article published in the Euro Weekly News on August 26th. It makes the case for population control among the stray cat populations.
I have now been working for close to 3 years to help the stray and abandoned cats in the region. At the beginning I knew very little about cats, having never owned one, but starting with our beautiful black male Mori, whom Chris and I adopted as a starving 6 month old kitten, I have come to love and respect these gorgeous creatures, and have learnt so much about them.
I have met and several hundred cat characters, and many cat people, who like me try to help the stray animals. All are kind, but continuing on from last week, kindness needs to go with responsibility. I remember a conversation I had with the Belgian man who used to run our local protectora. He believed that nobody should feed the stray cats, as there was enough food for them to forage in this region, and feeding led to a population explosion. Natural selection and controls should be allowed to take effect as with any semi wild species.
I found that a tough approach, but did understand where he was coming from. My view is that feeding IS a good thing, particularly where tame cats have been abandoned, but that sterilisation MUST go hand in hand with it. When I started Almerimar strays, in early 2008, it was as a sterilisation program, focused only on the stray female cats. We didn’t want any more feral kittens born in the port, and I wanted to spare the young females the unhealthy cycle of continual litters.
At that time I was having to pay 100 euros for each cat and that was at some discount, so I understand how hard it is for people to afford this. My Belgian advisor strongly believed that more vets should offer much cheaper prices for sterilisations, but we have a way to go there. There are however enlightened vets who are now working with us and want to make a difference. We still need some contribution, but I would much rather help somebody get their semi-feral garden cat sterilised, than be presented with another litter to be re-homed months later.
So I have a challenge for all you kind cat-lovers out there who feed the strays. I want us to work together to avoid another kitten explosion next summer. There should be no litters born to young females who are regularly being fed, and can easily be caught for sterilisation. I promise that this is my last article on this subject for a while, but please understand why I feel so strongly about it. We are currently overloaded with kittens and cats needing our help, and many of them would not even have been born, if together we had taken the right action earlier. It really isn’t enough to be kind. We must also be responsible!