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Up to 60,000,000 Homeless Cats

This is the estimated number of homeless cats roaming the US right now. Many were pets that the owners no longer wanted and so were dumped somewhere. Even more are second, third or, if they can live that long, fourth generation “feral” or feral cats.

January and February are bad months at Cat Shelters. This is when the excitement of the kitten as a Christmas present wears off and the reality of cleaning and daily feeding and training begins.

Estimates range from 4,000,000 to 14,000,000 cats euthanized in the US each year. This breaks my heart, but people who throw away their unwanted kittens really make me angry. What they do is cruel and heartless, leaving helpless kittens or cats to fend for themselves in a harsh and dangerous environment.

And who pays for these shelters and euthanizing all these cats? You do. Even if you are not responsible for the problem.

The majority of citizens would never dream of abandoning a helpless animal. It is those few without resentment or conscience, who create this huge problem.

Let’s talk some numbers for a minute. Let’s make the number of homeless feral cats even 50,000,000. We will make 50% of them breed female. That’s 25,000,000 cats that can give birth to two litters of 5 kittens on average each year. That’s 10 kittens per female cat each year times 25,000,000 breeding females. My calculator says that’s 250,000,000 extra feral kittens in the environment every year. Then if half of them are female and have 10 kittens a year plus the 25,000,000 females we started with…… Unfortunately my calculator won’t go that high! In seven years, just ONE pair of breeding cats can produce 450,000 kittens.

This problem is huge. The destruction of the environment and the damage to native wildlife and fauna is staggering. Cats eat about 5% of their body weight each day. Diseases spread by these unfortunate animals infect countless pets in their care.

So what can be done? Some states have Trap, Neuter, Return programs. This does exactly what it says. They trap feral cats, sterilize them and then release them back to where they were found, as many of these feral cats have established colonies. This could be a great method of reducing feral cat numbers, but there are only so many traps, so many people helping to catch these animals, and no way they can have much of an impact on these huge numbers. Also, some vets refuse to neuter these cats as they don’t want them back in the wild which is not their natural habitat. Other conservation groups say the released animals can still decimate bird and small reptile populations and spread disease.

Euthanizing animals costs more than money and the people who have to do it every day have a very bad time. Many work in shelters because they love animals, not because they want to kill them.

In Australia, there have been discussions about allowing only pet shops to sell neutered animals. The only people allowed to own breeding cats must be registered breeders. Some boats have gone so far as to only allow neutered animals as pets. The jury is still out on this one, but Australia has about 12,000,000 feral cats. Many people try to take care of their “pack” of feral cats by feeding them and keeping them healthy. Some risk (and receive) injury when you catch them and bathe them or take them to the vet. Some states in America have a gift for feral cats.

In the small country town where I live some ladies got together and raised money to neuter cats for pet owners for free. The local vet did his job charging only a minimal amount to cover his expenses. In just a few years, these three ladies sterilized over 400 cats at no cost to the owners. Perhaps this is something that could be encouraged elsewhere.

This problem is ours. It is our own construction. The cats did not ask to be abandoned. It is up to us to do something about it. I don’t have the answer. I hope I have informed some of you about this problem, made you think about your values. I’m not sorry if I upset you.

If you have a cat, please tell me it has been neutered. Unless you plan to reproduce from it. And remember, a cat is for life. Often this will be up to 20 years. And if you love your cat, the love will be returned tenfold.

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