College of Liberal Arts & Sciences / Natural Science & Math

Editorial: So many cats, so few resources

The Lebanon Express

The Lebanon Express received a call from Kaye Rhodes, who reported 11 cats were dumped in her son’s horse pasture.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to the family.

Kaye and her son Ted have taken on the role of caretakers of this cat colony, but they fear it will become too expensive, and are unsure if the cats have been neutered and spayed.

One misconception is that stray cats are feral, and can fend for themselves.

According to Karen Bledsoe, biologist and Western Oregon University instructor, not all cats have the recessive feral gene, and, when left to their own resources, most domestic cats will die within two to three weeks.

The issue of free-roaming cats is a problem nationwide.

Many municipalities and communities across the nation have adopted trap-neuter-return programs, which have been largely successful.

No municipalities can be found in Oregon with such ordinances or programs, but trap-neuter-return nonprofit organizations do exist in Oregon.

Once such agency is the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.

The coalition will spay or neuter stray or feral cats and return them, so long as a caretaker of the colony can trap them, and agrees to feed the cats.

The program is not for domesticated house cats (pets), but for those like Kaye and Ted who find themselves suddenly responsible for a colony of stray cats.

According to the coalition’s website, cats will not go away if they are not fed.

Even though cats may be feral, all cats are still domesticated creatures who rely on humans for food.

“A cat can go without food for several weeks and continue to reproduce,” the website states. “Trying to starve out cats results only in hungry, unhealthy animals vulnerable to disease and severe parasitic infestations, such as fleas.”

An ordinance to stop feeding free-roaming cats is ineffective because humans will feed starving animals, the website states.

A spay and neuter program helps control cat colonies.

It helps stop breeding, which is better for the cats and the caretaker.

Neutered males are less likely to fight.

Less fighting and breeding means less bodily fluid exchange, which means less chance of feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

No cat asks to be homeless.

For those that find themselves caretakers of stray or feral cats, consider calling a trap-neuter-return program.

It’s the best solution second to a loving, permanent home.

One thought on “Editorial: So many cats, so few resources

  1. It’s nice to know there are resources for feral cats, even if they are few. Starving animals as an effective way to decrease the population is such a horrible misconception.

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