Monday 12 July 2021

Don't do "something about feral cats", "do something about human behaviour"

For as long as I can remember the citizens of North America and other countries have often been saying: "do something about feral cats". What they mean is the authorities should do something about feral cats to reduce their numbers. The focus is entirely on the cat. And all-over North America, local authorities and state administrations have been scratching their heads for decades about what to do about feral, stray and community cats.

Image: MikeB.

Meanwhile, an army of volunteers are doing TNR work to reduce and stabilise the number of feral cats as best they can. More people are required but what they do is great work. They just get on with it while the politicians talk about it.

And because the administrators of minor and major jurisdictions are finding it impossible to grapple successfully with the feral cat problem, it seems to me that they should grapple with something which is far more straightforward and which would, in due course, albeit over a long time, reduce the feral cat population and that is to 'adjust' human behaviour.

If every cat owner was perfect there would be no feral cats. If every cat owner spayed and neutered their cats and ensured that they did not procreate, eventually the feral cat numbers would be reduced to zero. It would take a couple of cat generations to get there or about 30 years but the moment would arrive.

So, if the politicians had enacted some laws which obliged cat owners to behave more responsibly and if those laws have been around for 30 years, they would have percolated into the minds of all cat owners. And by now North America would have substantially solved the feral cat problem.

Today, when I researched news on feral cats, I got the usual response from Google: politicians of all types trying to solve the "feral cat problem". This is not a feral cat problem. This is a human behaviour problem. Can we please shift the focus away from the victims of bad human behaviour - the cats - to those humans who behave irresponsibly in respect of cat ownership?

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