Dialogue needed to address cat problems

Last week, two responses were written to the “Feral cat problem hurting city” letter which raised the issue of feral cats in Parkersburg. I am writing again on this issue in hopes of having a more honest and straightforward dialogue about this issue that isn’t one-sided.

Responses jumped on the supposedly false statement that the Save A Kitty program feeds feral cats. They, the Save A Kitty program, have stated that they do not directly use their funds to feed cat colonies. However, their answer to this question is misleading. According to their website, the gather volunteers to assist with feeding efforts. Their fund-raising section lists cat food as a needed donation and something they, or the beneficiary, purchase with donation money. Either Save A Kitty is directly involved with supplemental feeding or they are not, and this includes soliciting donations. We need a clear answer.

Save A Kitty also made several claims in their response to the original complaint. First, they claim that the number of feral cats in the county have decreased with the use of Trap-Neuter-Release techniques. I would like to see evidence of this claim. We need hard numbers, and from an independent source. If routine surveys exist, they need to be publicly available.

Second, Save A Kitty argues that euthanasia is inhumane. The question at hand, however, is whether or not TNR techniques and cat colonies are more humane. Furthermore, who is TNR humane for? I would argue that it’s not humane for wildlife. In my previous letter “Keep your cats indoors,” I referenced studies which show that outdoor and feral cats kill millions of wildlife each year. These techniques are not humane for people either. Cat colonies can serve as a breeding ground for diseases such as Toxoplasmosis, which regularly infects humans and other species. Many more diseases can run rampant in crowded colonies, which are also subject to harsh weather conditions and fighting among cats who likely do not receive regular veterinary care. Are these conditions really more humane?

Discussions should not be deflected on a third party which we can hardly hold accountable. The community has to have continuing dialogue on how best to approach this issue. We need to involve stakeholders including local governments, organizations and individuals, and relevant state and federal agencies. This issue is multidimensional and affects much more than the cats.

Braeden Harpool