Sunday 14 January 2024

Council proposes criminalising the feeding of feral and stray cats

NEWS AND OPINION: This is another episode in the ongoing saga which troubles America namely how to effectively deal with feral cats. Sometimes these are better described as community cats because they are either semi-feral or even domestic cats recently ejected from their home. That's quite an important point in this discussion.

Meeting to discuss criminalising the feeding of feral cats. Two women for TNR face the meeting's chairperson! Guess who won! Image is a screenshot from the video below.

But historically, in America, councils have struggled with dealing with feral cats because the best way to deal with them is TNR run by volunteers and TNR requires feeding of the cats as this is a humane process. Feeding feral cats is problematic for people who either don't like cats or are unsure about the presence of feral cats.

Regrettably you'll have to watch the video on YouTube as the news media outlet does not want it shown on websites. Please click here to see it. I like it as it shows us the real life struggles in making a decision on dealing with feral cats in the community.

In fact, a lot of people in a community dislike feral cats and want them removed completely whereas on the other hand there are people who see the need to help feral cats. They see their presence as an animal welfare issue whereas the former group see their presence as harming the amenity of the area.

And this background discussion is part of the debate in Strasbourg, Ohio which has proposed criminalising the feeding of feral cats in their community specifically the Tuscarawas County village. Some residents there feel that their community is overrun by feral cats.

The proposed ordinance would stop TNR volunteers feeding feral cats. I can recall, 15 years ago, a big discussion, indeed argument, about feeding feral cats in West Hollywood. At the end of the day, the people who fed feral cats and the TNR program won the day because it is a humane solution.

In this instance, a packed meeting on Tuesday - as I believe you can see in the video - discussed the proposed ordinance at a second reading. It was a chance for community members to voice their concerns.

The video provides a hint as to the outcome of this meeting. It seems that the general community feeling was that criminalising the feeding of feral cats is the wrong thing to do. It is not the best solution. 

One should look at both points of view and one should be sensitive towards those people who don't like to see feral cats being fed because it encourages wildlife to the area. That's the classic issue but overriding that, in my view, is the fact that humankind needs to act humanely towards feral cats because we put them there.

The only humane way to deal with feral cats at the moment is TNR programs hopefully supported by the community and indeed by the local authority, which makes them more effective.

And we have to think of the women (normally) who run these programs. They enjoy doing it. It gives them purpose. They do good work. Let's think of the women volunteers and the occasional man who likes to help reduce the feral cat and community cat population through humane methods as opposed to trapping and killing.

When you watch the video, and you see these wonderful ladies involved in TNR, you simply cannot ignore the strength of the argument that TNR, despite its weaknesses, is the best way forward in a community.

In the video one person spoke up and said that sometimes among the feral cats there is a domestic cat. You cannot trap that cat and kill him or her because you will be committing a true crime that of criminal damage against the property owned by somebody else.

In nearby Dover, the local mayor there said that TNR had made a big impact in the city. TNR has been a success and it can be a success if it is run properly. Here's a quote from News Five Cleveland on "Tusc TNR":
"Since the Tusc TNR program was instituted in the City of Dover 5 years ago, the city has seen a significant reduction in complaints from residents regarding feral cats.  As of October of 2023, the group had trapped, neutered and released 862 cats and adopted out another 228 kittens.  In particular, we previously had an area of town behind several restaurants and other businesses, which we received a number of complaints about.  The TNR program came in and has significantly reduced the number of feral cats in that area.  The TNR group works closely with the city administration to target areas of town as needed and reduce the feral cat population.  The City of Dover has a great working relationship with the Tusc TNR program."

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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