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Up to 60,000,000 Homeless Cats
Here’s the estimated number of stray cats currently roaming the United States. Many were pets whose owners no longer wanted them, so they were discarded somewhere. More are second, third, or, if they live that long, fourth generation “wildcats” or feral cats.
January and February are terrible months for cat shelters. This is when the excitement of a kitten as a Christmas gift wears off and the reality of picking up the pieces, feeding and training each day begins.
An estimated 4,000,000 to 14,000,000 cats are euthanized each year in the United States. It makes me sad, but people who discard kittens they don’t want really piss me off. Their actions are brutal and ruthless, leaving helpless kittens or cats to fend for themselves in harsh and dangerous environments.
Who pays for these shelters and euthanizes all these cats? you do. Even if you are not responsible for the problem.
Abandoning a helpless animal would never occur to most citizens in their dreams. It is those few who have no guilt or conscience that create this huge problem.
Let’s take a moment and talk some numbers. Let’s take the number of homeless feral cats at an even number of 50,000,000. We will make 50% of them breeding females. That’s 25,000,000 cats producing an average of two litters of 5 kittens per year. That is, 10 kittens per female multiplied by 25,000,000 breeding females per year. My calculator shows an extra 250,000,000 feral cats per year in the environment. Well if half of them are females and have 10 kittens a year plus the 25,000,000 females we started with…unfortunately my calculator won’t be that high! Over seven years, just one breeding pair can produce 450,000 kittens.
This problem is huge. The damage to the environment and 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. That’s exactly what it says. They trap feral cats, neuter them, and return them to where they were found, as many feral cats have established colonies. This could be an excellent way to reduce feral cat populations, but there are only so many traps and only so many people who help catch these animals, and they can’t make much difference to these huge numbers. Also, some veterinarians refuse to spay these cats because they don’t want them back outdoors, which is not their natural habitat. Other conservation groups say released animals can still decimate bird and small reptile populations and spread disease.
Not only does it cost money to euthanize animals, but it is miserable for the people who are forced to do it day in and day out. Many people work at shelters because they love animals, not because they want to kill them.
In Australia, there has been talk of only allowing neutered animals to be sold in pet shops. The only person allowed to keep cats must be a registered breeder. Some counties even only allow neutered animals as pets. The jury is still out on this, but there are approximately 12,000,000 feral cats in Australia. Many people try to take care of “their flock” of feral cats by feeding them and making sure they are healthy. Some people risk (and suffer) injury when catching them and bathing them or taking them to the vet. Some states in the United States have bounties on feral cats.
In the country town where I live, several women got together to raise funds to spay and neuter cats for pet owners for free. The local vets did their part and charged only the bare minimum to cover his costs. In just a few years, the three women spayed and neutered more than 400 cats for free. Perhaps this is something that can be encouraged elsewhere.
This problem is ours. It’s made by us. Cats don’t ask to be abandoned. We have a responsibility to do something about it. I don’t have an answer. Hopefully I’ve made some of you aware of this issue and got you to think about your own values. I won’t apologize if I upset you.
If you have a cat, please let me know it has been neutered. Unless you plan on breeding with it. Remember, cats are for life. Typically this will be as long as 20 years. If you love your cat, the love will be returned tenfold.
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