I posted something about this before, but one of the things I do is help stray and feral cats in my neighborhood. Ferals are ones that were born on the street or in the bushes – or sometimes even in trees! -and haven’t been around humans, but they’re not “wild.” They’re still domestic animals, they’re just afraid of us. Many of them are cared for by people like me who put out food, water, and shelter in cold weather. Some eventually even become adoptable; I have one, a friend has one, and I know of others, but most can’t adapt to an indoor life. What we do for them is TNR, or Trap, Neuter, & Return. They get spayed or neutered and get a rabies shot, and they clip the tip off one ear (“eartipping”) so that future rescue people know at a glance that they’ve already been through the TNR program. This keeps the population down, cuts down on the fighting, pissing, and yowling, and they can lead decent lives in the outdoors. For more info on ferals and doing your own TNR event, check out Alley Cat Allies at: http://www.alleycat.org/ .
Strays are another story. Some escape, many are dumped by people when they move, which enrages me. If you’re moving somewhere that doesn’t accept pets, don’t freakin’ MOVE there! But to some people, pets aren’t family members, as they are to me, they’re just disposable furniture. At one of the places I went to school, university students would adopt a kitten, keep it for a year, then dump it when they went home for the summer. I used to take care of about 25 of them in those days, and most of them haven’t even been fixed, so the numbers keep increasing. Strays breed ferals, which people subsequently complain about. This sort of irresponsible behavior makes my blood boil, and people like that refuse to be educated, despite all efforts.
Right now there are two or three strays in my alley who all appeared at about the same time. One is a real sweetie, a young boy-cat, not fixed of course, who has a wound between his shoulder blades that keeps reopening. I don’t know if he was bitten by a dog or raccoon, or got it crawling under some ragged object, but I’ve been putting antibiotic gel and aloe vera on it. I’m hoping my veterinarian, a really cool guy, will let me do an installment plan so I can get him healed up (his ears are scratched raw, too, probably from itching at ear mites.) Finding him a home, or foster home, or a shelter that will take him in, is the next step.
For anyone who wants to help, contact your local shelters. Many thanks, whatever you do to help your neighborhood!
P.S. here’s info on a guy I tip my hat to, doing in Baltimore what I do here: http://citypaper.com/news/cat-crusader-1.1364929#.UD420RV_oAA.facebook.
[and I wasn’t kidding about cats born in trees, either. check these tidbits out, and think back to Konrad Lorenz’s theories about imprinting.
cat born in tree and staying there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI35PKXo9NU.
explanation of the behavior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4qva7GkmMw.]
P.P.S. some fire departments, or at least individual firefighters, will rescue cats from trees. Others absolutely hate that stereotype and won’t do it, and are dog vs. cat fans (I like both, myself), and their argument is that you never see a cat skeleton in a tree. Fine, but the stress on the kitty before it finally figures out how to crawl down, or FALLS out of the tree, is nothing to laugh at, dammit. Toto the tornado kitten is a new kids’ book about one that got stranded in a tree during a tornado in Massachusetts.