Tuesday 7 September 2021

Iceland has its own discussion about indoor/outdoor cats and feral cats

You might have thought that with the relatively cold temperatures in Iceland that feral cats would not be an issue on that island country but they are. They do exist in that country and I know because the country's Parliamentary ombudsman received a complaint about The Housing Complaints Committee's decision not to restrict free movement of cats in the "summer residence area". I don't know what that means but there appears to have been a parliamentary discussion about restricting domestic cat movement, which I take to mean keeping cats indoors. The ombudsman rejected the complaint which means that domestic cats can wander. The conventional method of cat ownership. There is continual pressure on legislatures to review this status. Uniquely cats are allowed to wander freely - c.f. domestic cats.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Icelandic government proposes changes to the law regarding feral cats. The information on that page may differ because of sketchy reporting.

Icelandic cat. Photo by Natalia Chrzanowska.
Icelandic cat. Photo by Natalia Chrzanowska.

Also, there has been a discussion about the feral cats of that country. One of the points made was that if a TNR volunteer takes care of cats, they are deemed to be owners of those cats. This is a point which has come up before. It is a barrier to the work of TNR volunteers which is so vital in stabilising feral cat populations. That concept has been rejected as I understand it.

They also discussed what is called 'ear-tipping'. This is surgically removing the tip of the left ear of a feral cat to indicate that they have been through the TNR program which includes trapping, vaccination, sterilisation and return to the location from where they came. There appears to be a discussion about whether NGOs were allowed to do it which seems very strange to me but it has been approved. Although sometimes it is done badly and it has been considered to be cruel.

A report on an Icelandic website tells us that, regrettably, feral cats have been exterminated in certain parts of the country. In fact, it states that they have been killed in many municipalities. The reporting is sketchy because it is a translation by Google of Icelandic but it is clear that Iceland has the same polarisation of viewpoints regarding how to deal with feral cats. There are those who want to kill them which doesn't work by the way and there are those who want to deal with them in a more humane way which means TNR, which in turn means ear tipping as mentioned.

It appears to me that in Iceland there are many volunteers as there are in other countries who wish to support feral cats in TNR programs and at this juncture it seems that their argument is winning over the extermination argument. That should always be the case because even though TNR is a slow process, and humankind does not like slow processes, it is the most humane and currently the only known and successful way of dealing with feral cats.

Perhaps one day humankind will be able to genetically engineer feral cats so that they are sterile. That would be I think the best solution. However, the better solution would be for domestic cat caregiving to be of a much higher standard such that domestic cats are never allowed to wander and stray and become feral and procreate. This is the root cause of the feral cat problem in any country. It is a failure in domestication of the cat which causes feral cats to exist.

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