Sir: I am writing in response to complaints arising against the municipality regarding so-called problems with supposed “feral” cats.
I would like to address these disturbing complaints on several levels.
First, I would like to define the term “feral.”
Does it mean cats with no homes? Cats who have been dumped and abandoned by callous owners? Cats no longer wanted because of a new baby, a move, a new girl-friend/boyfriend? Cats terrified of humans? Cats starving and dying because of human cruelty?
Second, people need to be very careful in naming a colony a feral one. Often, there may be cats now “feral” in the colony, but they ALL would have been domestic cats or kittens of domestic cats at one time, and for sure some of them are not “feral” presently. They are helpless lives betrayed by humans, so, please, anyone complaining, place the blame and shame where it belongs, not on the felines struggling to survive, but on the humans who have betrayed them.
Now for a history lesson on this very topic. Some 15 years ago, because of complaints of this very nature, the municipality asked for volunteers to form a committee to formulate solutions to the problem of homeless cats. I was part of the committee eventually created under the direction of the Licensing Manager of Chatham-Kent.
We named the group CK CAT, for Chatham-Kent Cat Assistance Team, and after some two years of intense meetings and much discussion, we formulated policies and procedures to hopefully help both cats and humans solve the tragic problem of growing numbers of homeless cats in the county.
We received a $15,000 PetSmart grant, $5,000 from the municipality, and a further $5,000 grant from a community fund to begin the TNVR (Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release) we had decided was the most effective way to resolve the situation.
We began to take names from people, charted colonies, purchased traps, set up clinics with local vets, and ultimately over the next seven years TNVR’d more than 350 “feral” cats across Chatham-Kent.
The one important stipulation for this help was that the colonies had to have a caretaker who fed, watered and supplied shelter to the cats we handled.
Some four years ago, the committee was called to a meeting and informed by the chief legal officer of the municipality that the decision had been made to disband CK CAT because too much of the Licensing Manager’s time was being spent on the paperwork for this much needed and worthy endeavour.
The percentage of her time was 10 per cent! Ten per cent to save lives, to put a stop to the birth of thousands of unwanted kittens, and to stop complaints from uncaring, callous, and indifferent people.
The members of CK CAT struggled for two years to try to continue this important work, but without insurance, a place to meet, or a charitable donation number, we finally, with heavy hearts, admitted defeat and disbanded.
Tragically, since then, literally tens of thousands of unwanted kittens have been born in this municipality.
I wonder what percentage of C-K’ s budget goes to pay the salaries of the legal team?
Maybe they could take a little cut and restore CK CAT to the invaluable, compassionate work we were doing.
One final suggestion, instead of complaining, why don’t the complainers contribute to a TNVR program again and solve the problem for both humans and helpless beings?
I myself presently have nine rescues, dropped off because farms will always look after them.
They are all, amongst dozens, that I have spayed/neutered and given a home to.
A society that does not value little lives will not value big ones.