By TYLER PETT
An issue that seems to be making more and more appearances lately throughout the cities, towns and villages of the area is what to do about the problem of feral cats. The problem with feral cats is not a simple one and offers no quick fixes, yet the answer that is being proposed in many areas seems to be illogical and viewed through rather narrow spectrum.
That answer being proposed is that feral cats be trapped, spayed or neutered then released back into the area they were trapped from and feed at designated feeding stations. This looks like a good approach, saving the cat from being euthanized, however once one looks past the basic outcome the problems with this plan start to appear.
First you have the problem of paying for the actual spaying or neutering of the cat. A conservative estimate on the cost of that would be anywhere from $50 to $70 a cat. At $50 apiece after 20 cats that would be $1,000 spent, without even that many cats being treated. This seems like a cost that could easily start to add up for the many cash strapped municipalities in the area.
The bigger issue here though is returning these cats to a place where they do not belong then feeding them none the less; they are in fact an invasive species doing considerable damage to the environment. According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals own data, these cats that receive food at feeding stations can live up to 10 years, that's 10 years the cat is still out causing problems. These cats then prey on for all those years' large numbers of song birds and small animals. This has two effects then, one that the prey species numbers are greatly diminished and two that those species natural predators such as owls, hawks, foxes, and coyotes are faced with shortages of food. Then there are the feeding stations, these stations will surely draw in more than just feral cats; skunks, raccoons and opossums will flock to these feeding stations like a free buffet.
Bringing them not only into close contact with humans, but also bringing with them diseases such as rabies, not to even mention the fact that sense these animals will be getting feed it may create a population explosion in their numbers. What then, do we start spaying skunks as well? Also what's to say that cats who have not been spayed or neutered won't be feeding at these stations allowing them an even better chance at surviving and reproducing.
While it may sound harsh euthanasia coupled with public education on spaying and neutering pet cats is still the best method of control out there to deal with the problem. That is because the trap, spay, release, feed method doesn't really solve the problem, the cats are still out their causing nuisances, and the feed stations are causing entirely new problems.
Tyler Pett is a Fredonia resident.