Feral Cat Problem

tamed feral cat
Mr. Tom - tamed feral cat
Photo copyright Elisa

The feral cat problem should read, "the human behavior problem". If there really is a feral cat problem, it is our fault and almost nothing is said or done to tackle the people who are irresponsible in their cat caretaking. Do feral cats serve a useful purpose by the way?

It is interesting to note that we rarely hear from non-western countries about a "feral cat problem". We occasionally hear from Israel who in general mistreat feral cats in my opinion and Greece where they are poisoned out of season. In the holiday season they are an attraction for tourists.

But they are not regarded as a problem in the same way as they are in the United States. In the UK we rarely talk or write about the feral cat. We don't see them. This must be due to one of two reasons (a) the weather is too cold and unpleasant for cats to routinely go AWOL and live feral lives and/or (b) UK cat "owners" (cat caretakers) are more responsible than our counterparts in the United States, which I don't believe is the case.



There is one further possibility, people in the US are more sensitive to the feral cat than we are in the UK. I must add though that I think there are more feral cats in the USA judging from my experiences and the reports coming out of the USA.

Cared for feral cats - it can done - Photo: by Pagani photo

Talking about news reports coming out of the USA...I would like to comment on a typical news story about feral cats. We get these all the time and in commenting on this story, in some ways, I am commenting on all the feral cat stories.

The story comes from the online edition of the White Mountain Independent newspaper. The story is entitled: "Feral cats are becoming serious problem in town"

The Animal Control Officer at Pinetop-Lakeside, Randy Hemmings, says there is a feral cat problem in the area. He gently criticises people who feed the feral cats because, he says, there are "consequences" and the consequences are not good, he goes on to explain.

He also goes on to demonstrate a huge bias against feral cats that is very apparent, in my opinion. This bias really is a human attitude problem which is greater than the so called "feral cat problem". I sense that there is a large body of people who are frightened of the feral cat and cats in general. And they have misconceptions about the cat which feeds the fear.

Mr Hemmings's bias comes through in a number of ways. He says that he gets calls from the public to remove the feral cats. He traps them. He also traps wild animals as a spin off from this. He treats the wild animals and the feral cats completely differently. He admits that the feral cats are killed after being trapped while he gently and with genuine concern releases the wild animals into the wild. He does this out of the goodness of his own heart. He has no obligation to look after the wild animals in this way. He releases them "deep into the forest". The cats are killed, the other wild animals are protected.

Defendex shampooAs to feral cats he says that on one occasion a feral cat got loose and he had to grab it. The cat was scratching and biting. He says this cat "was so wild it had to be put down. There was nothing else we could do with it."

This makes me mad to be honest. It shows ignorance and bias. Feral cats are wild animals and this cat is bound to react as she or he did under these circumstances (in fact a domestic cat could well do the same thing!). It is not something to be criticised. But he justifies the killing of this cat on the basis of this totally normal and predicable behavior. Why can't feral cats be treated the same way as other wild animals? This is a kind of animal racism. I would bet a skunk would wriggle and bite under the same circumstances and it would emit that skunk smell but he doesn't say the skunk should be put down. He couldn't because it is probably protected while the feral cat has no legal protection.

Mr Hemmings justifies the inequality (although he sees no inequality himself; for him it is all normal to kill feral cats in the thousands) by saying that feral cats spread feces, urine (smells) and disease. They are a hazard to vulnerable people such as children, old people and people with a compromised immune system. He says that they breed prolifically and that they kill wildlife such as birds, squirrels and skunks. He refers to the bacteria in the mouth of cats and on the claws that can cause cat scratch fever. This is so lethal it can kill wildlife on its own. In fact it is very rare.

Cared for feral cat, Birmingham, England. It can be dome.

Mr Hemmings never refers to the potential health hazards than can caused by other wildlife. Surely there can be little difference between cats and skunks or squirrels. They are being killed by other animals and they will defecate and urinate and so and so forth. Why differentiate between feral cats and other wildlife? Feral cats are wild cats effectively.

Skunks kill wildlife. They emit a strong smell. They defecate and eat carbage and they breed successfully. Yet Mr Hemmings treats them as precious forms of wildlife to be gently protected while the horrible feral cat has to be exterminated! Come on Mr Hemmings, be fair. As an animal control officer you have a duty to be fair to all animals.

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.Mr Hemmings wheels out the usual arguments about feral cats spreading disease. He refers to cats suffering from feline leukemia (FeLV). He says that he can't release the cats as they carry diseases (cat colony diseases). He then admits that there is no evidence that FeLV is zoonotic (transmittable to people) but...gotta kill 'em nonetheless. How poor is that? FeLV is not zoonotic, period, full stop. He should be pleased that feral cats suffer from these illnesses as it kills them early in life.

Site Build It!He refers to cats carrying rabies but it is extremely rare. Skunks in contrast have a reputation for carrying rabies (21.5% of reported cases of rabies from all species are skunk related). But Mr Hemmings treats them way better than he treats those horrible feral cats. You gotta keep killing those cats...It's almost a national pastime, a way of life. It is thoughtless and degrading.

To compound the unfairness, the director of the local Humane Society agrees with everything he says about the feral cat problem.

There is gross unfairness directed towards the feral cat. There is hardly any emphasis on proactive action - preventing the cat becoming feral through good cat caretaking. The emphasis is on reactive measures and that means one blunt and biased thing -- kill them! Even sheriffs can shoot at them at will. And shelters don't have to kill cats in the numbers that they are according to Nathan Winograd (see Redemption - Amazon ad on this page).

It is high time that local authorities dealt with the feral cat properly and decently and that means one thing: lets look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that we caused it and we have the responsibility to solve the feral cat problem at source with proper domestic cat management. If that has to be forced on people through legislation so be it.

Some related pages:

See visitors' articles

Feral Cats Serve A Useful Purpose

PETA Exterminates Feral Cats

Feral Cats and their Management

How Feral Cats Affect Wildlife

Feral Cats Serve A Useful Purpose

Cat Colony

Update April 1st 2011: Maryann Mott journalist for National Geographic News concludes, as far as I can see, that killing feral cats is not the solution. Maryann refers to an interview with Julie Levy who is a veterinarian and professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville.

Levy agrees that the use of a new "sterilisation vaccine" might be an effective solution to the feral cat problem. Levy is involved in a study with male feral cats and "it's looking extremely promising." The idea is to inject cats in the wild. The principle seems to be that a more efficient way of neutering feral cats might over time reduce their population in a humane way. I like this. It is humane and long term and it gets to the root of the problem - almost. The real problem is us. In general, we can't behave responsibly in caring for our domestic cats.

This quick version of TNR should be accompanied by legislation to force people to care for their cats more responsibly. That won't happen because governments know it can't be enforced and their is more important legislation to create.

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Comments

  1. Don't anyone fall for the song and dance about cat-lovers being animal-lovers, they are anything but that. They don't give one damn about any other animals nor even other humans. Cat-lovers are just like cats, the only thing they care about are themselves. Nobody else and nothing else matters to them.

    Their TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs are a dismal failure too. A smokescreen and time & money waster. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Do a search online for the truth about all TNR failures.

    Those cats that are released will still be decimating the native food-chain for all wildlife. And if you feed a TNR cat colony they kill even more wildlife. A well-fed cat kills more animals than a starving one. They don't stop killing other animals just because they're no longer hungry. The healthier they are the more they kill. It's what they do, it's what they are. Lousy little killing machines, nothing more.

    The problem is just not the loss of bird populations either. Feral cats and neighboring farmers that let theirs roam free have decimated the natural food-chain in my woods. The resident foxes, owls, and other predatory animals no longer had a food source, the feral cats destroyed all the smaller animals that all the larger ones depended on. The native species all starved to death. That's what cats do to ALL native animals.

    I found out that where I live it is perfectly legal to defend your own property and animals from destruction by others' animals. I lost count after dispatching the first 20 piece-of-sh!t vermin with a good .22, outfitted with a laser-sight and good zoom rifle-scope. I didn't have to waste even one bullet, making this solution highly economical as well. Just think of how many dollars and hours of your lives that you have spent trapping, transporting, calling, complaining, restoring damaged property, et.al. ... and still all the problems that these useless cat-lovers have caused remains.

    It's time to give cats and cat-lovers the same consideration and respect that they have for all other humans and all other wildlife--that means NONE. Don't bother wasting your time arguing with disrespectful, inconsiderate, and ignorant cat-lovers either, as I stupidly tried to do too many times in the past. Just do what needs to be done and there'll be nothing to argue about.

    This year owls and foxes have returned to my woods. Through a large effort of my own, including raising and releasing native mice and voles to help repopulate the species that their piece-of-sh!t cats destroyed. Their lousy cats are finally gone. But I'll shoot again on first-sight the first chance I get (and anyone who tries to stop me from doing what needs to be done). The rewards for ridding one's land of ALL cats and restoring the native wildlife population are far too great.

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  2. Here's a little insight to help you with your war on cat-lovers and their cats. Now you'll know exactly why cat-lovers do what they do. It really has nothing at all to do with their concern for cats, nor even the lives of anyone nor anything else, quite the opposite.

    Human Territorial Behavior By Expendable Proxy

    I have come to the inexorable conclusion that the vast majority of cat-lovers and cat-owners that let their destructive invasive-species roam free, and especially those that defend the rights of feral cats to overtake public property and wildlife areas, are only (cowardly) using cats as a proxy for their own territorial behavior. Not unlike uneducated inner-city youth that will disrespectfully and inconsiderately use a boom-box or other sound-source to stake-out a territory for themselves with loud music. As long as they can have one of their possessions defecate in another's yard or destroy their property, animals, and wildlife, and the yard-owner not have any recourse; the cat-owner owns that territory. It's time to put a stop to them using their "cute kitty" excuse for usurping and stealing others' property. If they want territory they can damn well buy it just like anyone else. Instead they're using underhanded, disrespectful, and manipulative means. By putting (and sacrificing) live animals in the path of their envy and greed. Again proving why they don't care about cats nor anyone else at all. Cat-lovers only really want your lawn, yard, or forest while making all others and all other animals suffer for what they can't have nor own. Bottom line--they want to control you and your property. That's ALL that "cat-lovers" are really after. It's why they don't care at all if their cat nor any other animals, nor even other humans, get harmed by their goals and (lack of) values in life.

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  3. Response to last comment. I think you are really miles off the truth. You have a massive bias and an impaired judgement.

    You demonstrate a kind of madness, really.

    You are probably a danger to society but I don't know - just a guess.

    Are you the type who shoots at feral cats? Or any cats? Could be.

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  4. There is NOTHING natural about a cat destroying a bird nor any other native wildlife. Cats are an invasive species. Bred by man for man’s purposes through selective-breeding, a form of genetic engineering. They are NOT an indigenous species anywhere on the planet today and have NO PLACE in nature. They have NO natural predators due to the widely and randomly colored patterns that have been bred into them. Bold patterns on any cat is a universal symbol to all wildlife that that animal is using toxic or olfactory defense mechanisms (even though they lack one, other than all the deadly diseases that cats now carry), so all native predators have now learned to not go near any of them.

    They have no more right to be out in the natural world than some genetically engineered insect that, if released out into nature, would destroy all wildlife. JUST AS CATS DO.

    If you delusional, misinformed, and misguided cat-lovers are going to talk about animal behavior and ecology as your pro-cat arguments, the very LEAST you could all do is go educate your ignorant selves to the true facts in this matter. How difficult can this be? Which part of the name "HOUSE-CAT" do you fail to comprehend? How old are any of you really? Even five-year-olds comprehend the meaning of those two words.

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  5. If it's illegal worldwide to torture animals using any method (bullfighters seem exempt), then why are cat-owners allowed to torture ALL wildlife with their cats? Cats don't just kill wildlife humanely (like one can kill a feral cat with a well-aimed bullet), cats torture any animal to play with it while it's still alive and twitching with its entrails hanging out. It seems that the longer they can keep an animal alive the more enjoyment that cats get out of it. Shouldn't outdoor-cat owners and all TNR groups be charged with this crime of animal-cruelty, fined heavily, and all of them serving severe jail sentences? There seems to be a drastic double-standard going on. They may not be torturing other animals with baseball-bats or other weapons in their hands, but their cats are just as much a tool of theirs.

    Would a dog owner be fined with the crime of animal-cruelty if they continually let their dog attack other animals? Of course, and it's already happened, many times. Fined and convicted. It's in the news often.

    This drastic double-standard needs to be corrected. With the fines that all cat-owners and TNR groups would have to pay we'd have the money to clean up this ecological disaster they created. Think of all the new jails that would have to be built to house them all too, all the new jobs. We could turn this ecological disaster into an economic recovery by finally making some use of useless cat-lovers.

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  6. 150,000,000 feral breeding cats in the USA destroying wildlife everywhere, destroying the whole native food-chain wherever they are found, and spreading deadly diseases to all animals and humans. 60,000,000 non-feral cats in the USA of which most are not sterilized. Human population of the USA (from infant to senior) is 311,000,000.

    210,000,000 wildlife destroying cats in the USA for 311,000,000 humans. 2 cats for every 3 humans from infant to senior. They cannot be trapped and fixed at the rate they are breeding. It is a totally losing battle. A 210,000,000-cat losing battle. This is the result of trapping policies since they outlawed shooting cats in many areas.

    As a responsible civic-duty to your fellow human and your children's future, and all wildlife on earth, each and every household of 3 people would have to permanently destroy AT LEAST 2 cats just to begin to start to catch up to their breeding rates to bring this human-health, ecological, and financial disaster under control. The cat-population has been oversaturated for a long time now. Nobody wants the excess that are breeding faster than they can trap them, only 60,000,000 cats are wanted in the USA. They're too spineless, weak, and uncaring of anything else but their cats to destroy the excess.

    So now they just dump them into your neighborhoods and countryside to pawn them off as someone else's problem to allow them to destroy all life on earth by destroying the native food-chain. And mind you, this is with believing they hold absolutely no responsibility at all to any deaths by rabies or other cat diseases, miscarriages from Toxoplasmosis, damages to businesses, nor any other suffering and damages to the community where they dumped them. When they get sued for their actions and FORCED to finally take responsibility they'll just conveniently disappear. You can count on it. NOT ONE feral cat advocate has EVER assumed any responsibility, financial or otherwise, for any damages or deaths caused by their cats.

    Nice values and goals you've got there! Keep trying to justify them.

    Thanks! You amazingly ignorant and stupid cat-lovers that brought us to where we are now. If we left it up to you, with your disease-spreading food-chain destroying cats, there will eventually be no other life-form left on earth, just your cats cannibalizing each other. You're so smart and loving, aren't you.

    You should all be thrown in prisons for life. But wait, let's first get to torture you with disembowelment and diseases like your cats do to all other life-forms. We only want to deal with you completely fairly and evenly you know. Giving back to you exactly what you've brought to this planet with your cats. We want to be just as logical and compassionate as you are.

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  7. Response to last comment. You are an ignorant arseh*le.

    Where the hell do you get your self serving biased and inaccurate figures from?

    "150,000,000 feral breeding cats in the USA destroying wildlife everywhere"

    Tell me where you get the 150k figure from. No one knows how many feral cats there are in the USA. The best estimate is 80m. And "destroying wildlife"?

    It is idiot humans like you who destroy wildlife by breeding (human population growth) and building and business and more roads and damaging habitat etc. People are by far the worse destroyers of wildlife on the planet. People are destroying the bloody planet you idiot. And in any case we - people - created the feral cat through irresponsible cat ownership.

    Grow up and educate yourself. People like you really piss me off because you are so bloody ignorant.

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  8. Here is an interesting post from someone who believed in all the lies she was told about TNR programs, found at http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/05/the-secret-lives-of-feral-cats/

    "I have been battling a feral cat population explosion on my farmette for 7 years. TNR does not work, as the trapped and neutered cats do not keep new cats from moving in and adding kittens. I have trapped over 25 kittens, tamed them, and found homes for them, but every spring there are dozens more. I have spent countless dollars neutering females and males, but they just keep coming! I have few wild birds now, fewer snakes, and there are bunny parts all over my property (cats must not particularly like the back feet). I wish there was a birth-control feed available, since many of these feral cats don’t come near the traps even when hungry. I wish every pet owner would neuter their cats so that these colonies weren’t added to.
    These are not happy feral cats, they frequently have infected eyes, worms, and are skinny and mangey. I don’t know what the answer is, but even in the country, a feral cat doesn’t live a secure, comfortable life.


    Comment by Dawn Hawes — June 21, 2011 @ 9:38 am"

    And YOU TOO can have a financially-distressed, ruled-by-cats, life like this if you also believe in all their TNR LIES.

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  9. Oh, and one other thing that I need to ask all TNR advocates ... (though they never answer these questions, for ANYONE). Don't be shy, TNR people, any of you are free to answer any of these questions for once in your lives ...

    Once you have claimed ownership of these cats through your actions, do you carry enough liability-insurance for all the damages YOUR CATS will do when you release them? Or for all the health-care costs YOUR CATS will cause to all humans with all the diseases YOUR CATS now carry? Like Toxoplasma gondii, which becomes a lifelong illness once YOUR CATS infect a human with it. Or, should one of YOUR CATS contract rabies during its lifetime because you were unable to trap it again to vaccinate it. How many $MILLIONS in liability insurance do you carry if one of YOUR RABID CATS should bite a human? How about anyone who has lost business due to YOUR CATS running off customers because of the diseases they spread everywhere? Like what happened in Miami where YOUR CATS spread hookworm on all the beaches where YOUR CATS defecated. Can you repay everyone for their $MILLIONS, if not $BILLIONS, in losses of health, life, business, and property?

    Are you doing all of this completely irresponsibly without regard to the health and welfare of any other animal nor human life? Do you even know what the charge is if YOUR CATS are found destroying endangered plant or animal species? If so, have you considered you could be thrown in prison for a long long time for all of this criminally irresponsible behavior of yours?

    You might want to start thinking about these things. Your actions DO have consequences, and those are consequences that you may not enjoy ... for the rest of your miserable, unthinking, uncaring, inconsiderate, and wholly disrespectful cat-loving lives.

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  10. For those who doubt the 150,000,000 feral cats, just take any population number that you trust from any year, then apply the exponential rate of growth (see below) from the year those numbers were published. 150,000,000 is actually a VERY LOW VERY CONSERVATIVE estimate of the true feral-cat numbers today.

    Trapping as a solution is a failed concept from Day-1. Considering that there are now about 150 million feral-cats just in the USA alone, and 86 million pet-cats (60 million of which are allowed to still kill wildlife), this means that the cat-population is already oversaturated for a long time now. There's only 311 million people in the USA, 2 cats now exist for every 3 people, from infant to senior. All thanks to those who outlawed destroying them in a faster, more efficient, often more-humane, and more cost-effective manner by shooting them. While they also promoted their slow, inefficient, and failed trapping programs.

    Nobody wants more than 86 million cats for pets. Now take into consideration their exponential yearly growth-rate of x^5.4. An average litter of 5 new cats every 5-6 months. 2 cats can become 42 in only a year's time. Increasing at the rate of powers of 5.4 EVERY YEAR. No amount of people trapping them (if you could even get them all to enter traps), nor valuable resources (materials for traps, transport costs, vet costs, etc.), man-hours, nor money will ever catch up to their growth rate. You now have an ecological, human-health, animal-welfare, social, and financial disaster on your hands, ALL thanks to cat-lovers and TNR proponents. The faster that cats can be destroyed the better it MIGHT be. Even when using guns and having all stray and feral cats shot on-sight we might still not be able to catch up to their exponential growth rate. Not even until every last land animal (including humans) is gone from this earth, due to cats destroying the whole food-chain, with nothing but cannibalistic cats left walking the land. Just ask any TNR group how many cats they've trapped this year. They haven't even scratched the surface of the problem that they are exacerbating with their lies.

    Your best bet is to make cat-ownership AND care-taking of feral-cats a FELONY with hefty fines or prison sentences for anyone failing to comply -- until this problem that they created is brought under control by any and all means possible. Shoot-on-sight is, without a doubt, the fastest, most economical (0.3 cent to 3 cents per cat depending on ammo prices), and most effective method available. This is also the only method that doesn't endanger nor harass any other animals with non-discriminatory random-chance traps. Though avoid non-discriminatory poisons if at all possible, that once entered into the food-chain, will go on to destroy more of the very wildlife that you are hoping to save from destruction by cats.

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  11. Here's another Fun-Fact that trap-advocates fail to realize, in their infinite ignorance of how animal-behavior and evolution works.

    Those cats that have learned to avoid and evade all trapping methods are the next generation to survive. Ever hear the old adage, "If you invent a better mousetrap nature will just invent a better mouse."?

    So now, thanks to the supreme stupidity and ignorance of trap-advocates, we have a race of freely roaming cats in all countrysides of every continent which are passing on their "how to survive" behavior to all their offspring, both genetically and behaviorally. Now the next phase of millions of feral-cats won't even be able to be trapped. This is just how amazingly stupid trap-advocates are. You thought 150,000,000 feral cats was bad? In colloquial terms, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet!"

    There's a reason the phrase "hunted to extinction" is so well-known in all cultures across all lands. It is the ONLY method that is faster than a species can breed and adapt to.

    Stick that in your TNR-pipe of deceptive and deceitful ignorance and smoke it. You might as well, because you all have obviously been smoking something.

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  12. Moral of the Story:

    I wasted 15 YEARS of my life arguing with demented cat-lovers. During which THEIR CATS DESTROYED ALL WILDLIFE ON MY LAND.

    It wasn't until I STOPPED arguing and did what needed to be done -- SHOOT ALL CATS -- that my land, all the wildlife on my land, and my life itself started to return to normal. I no longer have to go out twice a day on cat-patrol to shoot more cats nor waste more time and energy burying them to protect wildlife from the diseases they carry.

    I hope the rest of you learn from this lesson. You can argue with the Toxoplasmosis parasites in the cat-lovers' brains until you are blue in the face and your whole planet is destroyed by their cats, but it'll never get rid of the cats that have destroyed your life and all wildlife.

    JUST DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE -- DESTROY THEM.

    Only later, AFTER your land and life are 100% free of cats, can you have fun educating the ineducable. Use the time you got back from their cats taking over your life to share the best ways to destroy all cats. (Without harming any other wildlife nor humans.) Then if you want, make YOUR life THEIR problem. Just as they made THEIR cats YOUR problem for years. It's only fair! Because that's what it's really all about, it's not about cats at all. THEY ONLY WANT TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE WITH THEIR CATS. You put a stop to that immediately BY DESTROYING THEIR CATS. And there's not ONE THING they can do about it if you do it right. They'll no longer have any part of your life.

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  13. Message to Woodsman - go back into the woods. Dig a hole. Lie in it. And get someone to put the earth back in the hole.

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  14. By the way, look up the term these TNR advocates just LOVE to use on how they reduce their feral-cat numbers, their candy-coating feel-good term of "Death by Attrition". This means that their cats will die from disease, cat-attacks, animal-attacks, exposure to the elements, being road-kill, starvation, and any other means that drastically shortens the life of those cats. ALL their cats suffering for how many months or years it takes to die that way. In many parts of this country and the world this clearly falls under the guidelines for cruelty to animals, animal-abuse, and animal-abandonment laws.

    If you want to raise revenue for your towns and cities in order to deal with this invasive-species ecological-disaster properly, start charging all these TNR advocates with severe fines and imprisonment for CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. Not only are they cruelly torturing cats, but also all the wildlife that they inflict their cats upon.

    They're not doing this out of any goodness of their hearts. THEY DON'T HAVE HEARTS. Proved, 100%.

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