Rabid cat attacks highlight idiocy of feral cat colonies

The following press release arrived today from the American Bird
Conservancy. I like this group, because they’re birders who expose
the terrible environmental consequences of free-ranging domestic
cats. While many birding groups and magazines waltz around this
issue, these guys provide good data and science to the public
explaining this growing problem. Of course, they’re too nice even
for me. I advocate fixing this problem by shooting every unleashed
cat outdoors in North America, but that’s me…

Even though feral cat advocates will ignore me, here’s the press
release. Keep up the good fight, ABC! Every birding magazine, as
well as environmental and conservation groups, should stand beside
this organization and demand the passage of laws outlawing “trap,
neuter, and release” programs that help maintain feral cat
colonies. If you’re a birder who either supports TNR or doesn’t
fight to outlaw TNR, you are a fraud, a gutless one at that.

“The Orlando Sentinel newspaper and other Florida media are
reporting two incidents of rabid feral cats attacking humans.  WFTV
in Orlando, Florida describes both attacks as unprovoked. In a
March incident, a feral cat was struck by a car, and when the
driver and passenger attempted to aid the cat, they were bitten by
the rabid animal.  In a second incident, on April 12, a rabid cat
entered a home through an open door and attacked and bit the
owner.

The three bitten people have all been treated for rabies and are
recovering. Both cats tested positive for rabies. As a result, a
60-day rabies alert was issued for Port Orange and South Daytona,
Florida.

According to the WFTV broadcast: “The health department’s theory
is the disease could be spreading at feeding areas. People have set
up shelters to feed cat colonies, but raccoons will finish off the
food and may be spreading rabies to the cats.”

“This is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last time
that we see the serious public health impacts of feral cats and
so-called ‘managed’ cat colonies. Rabies is not the only disease at
issue here. Feral cats can also carry toxoplasmosis, cat scratch
fever, and other potentially serious infectious diseases that can
affect humans. Despite the best of intentions, feral cat colonies
present an ongoing hazard to human health in communities where they
are established as well as birds and other native wildlife,” said
George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy.

One very controversial approach to dealing with feral cats is
called “Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).”  This approach requires that
feral cats in colonies be trapped, then neutered and then released
back into the colony in the hopes that eventually the colony
dramatically shrinks or is eliminated. The reality is that feral
cat colony programs do not succeed in eliminating the problem
because they invariably fail to capture and neuter all the cats in
the colonies. As a result, colonies are perpetuated over time,
often increasing in size, and magnifying the threat to humans,
birds, and other wildlife. The sanctioning of cat colonies by local
authorities only serves to further encourage cat owners to dump
more unwanted cats at these sites. The National Association of
Public Health Veterinarians, The Wildlife Society, and the People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals all oppose TNR programs.

According to ABC, feral cat colony programs do not protect local
wildlife from cats, and they are an ineffective and inhumane way of
dealing with the feral cat problem.  Allowing hundreds of very
efficient predators to exist in a local environment that
historically evolved without them will unquestionably and
dramatically, over time, alter the balance of the local ecosystem. 
This change occurs because cats kill not only birds – perhaps one
million birds or more EACH DAY in this country – but a variety of
small mammals and wildlife as well.

The feral cats themselves also face the prospect of very
unpleasant deaths from predators, disease, and automobiles. As a
result, feral cats have about one-third to one-fifth of the life
span of indoor, owned cats.”

These problems with TNR and cat colonies are explained in a
recent, informative video viewable here.

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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