I’ve discussed the whole feral issue before on here. Hard to believe it’s already been a year since I posted about this. I got into it recently on Facebook with some of those folks who were hoodwinked by the 20/20 report on indoor/outdoor cats being “murderers.” A friend is supposed to copy me on how that report was not only flawed, but also was only in draft stage when it flew off somebody’s desk and onto the airwaves.
We Euro-types brought Felis domesticus with us, and Apis mellifera too, when we started invading the Americas 500 years ago (not sure if any Viking kitties or honeybees established a beachhead 900 years ago or not). Whatever. They’re both introduced species, but there were niches to fill. We’ve wiped out a lot of habitat for red foxes, bobcats, owls, hawks, ocelots, margays, and other predators that were doing fine munching on birdies and mice before we got here. Cats are just filling in the gap; I remain to be convinced that they’re overloading the ecosystem. But I keep my tribe indoors to keep them safe, first and foremost, and secondarily so as not to exacerbate the problem. Coyotes are doing fine around humanoid habitations, but they’re the opportunistic exception that proves the rule.
Decades ago, we fed an outdoor cat, and the neighbors complained that he was killing birds. We put a bell on him and the problem went away, but someone told me, stridently, that that was just anecdotal evidence. That led to a long thread about logical arguments and my own credentials as an ecologist. I eventually won, using my guy Socrates’s reductio ad absurdum, but it was a pain in the ass. When people on the same side whittle away at each other instead of uniting to face a common enemy, everybody loses. My Celtic ancestors were victims of Caesar’s “divide and conquer” tactics. Gaul was divided into three parts before the divine Julius; after him it was divided into all kinds of tiny parts, all ruled by Rome.
My wonderful friends with St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach are heartbroken over the loss of a little guy called Meowly. We’re not sure what caused his injuries, and he seemed to be responding well to veterinary care, but he went in his sleep a few days ago. Not sure if he was harmed by humanoids, or got caught in a fan belt under someone’s warm car hood (always a grim reality in cooler months), but he just didn’t have enough juice to overcome the physical trauma. It happens, but we don’t have to like it. I like to think that he shuffled off this mortal coil while having a happy dream about his rescuers and how he was getting love and attention, and that the dream can keep going forever. I read a lot of cutting-edge physics, and the holographic universe principle appeals to me. Somewhere, what’s left of Meowly is happy now, and smiling upon our efforts to help the other disenfranchised kitties out there.
We had an event on Saturday in anticipation of National Feral Cat Day, which is today, and my cool cat-friendly landlord, Harold, rode his bicycle down and took a photo of me and my pal Mark, wearing a cat outfit/helmet/costume, whatever the appropriate term might be. I love the doggies too, but the kitties hold a special place in my heart. Once again, check out Alley Cat Allies for info on TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs for feral cats, and realize that ferals and strays are not the same thing. They both deserve our help. As a friend says, “we domesticated them, we OWE them.” So I’ve attached a photo of me from City Kitties day, and one of Meowly while he was undergoing triage. Please give a damn. We are all on this ride in the same leaky canoe. And remember to protect black cats during Halloween season. Humanoids are mean fookers, and I’ll be on the lookout for abusers, believe you me.