Herding Cats

It’s that time of year when cats breed at lightening speed, resulting in litters of unwanted kittens … unwanted at least from a human point of view.

Feral Cats

In today’s Kitsap Sun, you’ll see a Code 911 item about one East Bremerton couple who took matters into their own hands, bought a live trap and rounded up kitties in their neighborhood for deposit at the Kitsap Humane Society.

The couple advised neighbors at a meeting that they would photograph each cat, so that pet owners could see if their cats had been swept up with the strays.

Not everyone applauded their efforts. One neighbor, who collected his cat from the Humane Society, approached the couple’s home with a baseball bat and now could face charges.

Reminds me of a story I wrote in 2008 about Linda Dennis, a Bremerton woman on a mission to reduce the feral cat population. Only instead of shipping cats she caught in a live trap to the humane society, she collected donations to get them fixed and returned them to the neighborhoods from which they came.

Dennis has worked in conjunction with Seattle’s Feral Cat Project, which offers low-cost spay and neuter surgeries. The theory of the organization — and folks like Dennis — is that the neutered and spayed cats returned to their home will stake our territory and so prevent new strays from moving in.

No doubt stray cats are a problem. We used to have neighbors on either side who fed them. Looking across the fence, I would see hoards of mangy little faces peeking our suspiciously from under the one neighbor’s deck. The smell of cat feces wafted our direction, and I once found a deformed dead kitten in our kids’ playhouse.

One of the kittens that wandered into our yard eventually became our family pet. After we decided to keep the little guy, however, it took a lot of care to get him in shape. For one thing, he was so covered in fleas that they were visibly crawling all over his face and into his eyes. And yes, we did get him neutered.

If you have stray cats in your neighborhood, how have you dealt with it? Has your approach, like the East Bremerton couple’s, caused conflict? What do you think is the best way to handle the problem of pet overpopulation — other than the obvious, everyone spay and neuter their animals?

Low-Cost Spay Neuter Clinics

Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, Seattle; (206) 528-8125; www.feralcatproject.org

Coalition: HUMANE, Tacoma (formerly Peninsula Spay Neuter Clinic); (253) 627-7729; www.coalitionhumane.org

Animal Welfare Organizations

Kitsap Humane Society; (360) 692-6977; www.kitsaphumane.org

A.R.F. (animal rescue families); (360) 698-6576; www.animalrescuefamilies.org

PAWS of Bainbridge Island (cats only); (206) 842-2451; www.pawsbainbridge.org

PAWS of Bremerton; (360) 373-7043; www.pawsofbremerton.org

R.E.D. (rescue every dog); www.rescueeverydog.org

The Big Dog Project; (360) 434-2364; thebigdogproject@yahoo.com

5 thoughts on “Herding Cats

  1. I live in the neighborhood referred to in this blog where kitties are being rounded up. The neighbors who are trapping cats are not trapping them because they are strays. They are trapping them because they are “tired of cats killing mice and birds in the area.” This is what they stated as their reasoning at the neighborhood meeting. They are also not trapping cats in the proper manner. Rather than trapping kitties that wander into their property, the legal way, they are luring all cats into their trap in their front yard with a bowl of cat food and a bowl full of tuna. The only time they showed pictures of the cats they had caught was at the neighborhood meeting and it was after they had already sent them to the humane society. They caught one of my cats, who rarely goes outside, and immediately sent her off without putting up “found cat” posters or contacting any neighbors. I only found out she was there from another neighbor who was infuriated by their tactics. I had to pay to get MY cat out of the humane society and she ended up contracting a virus there. I’m now paying for all five cats in my house, the rest who are indoor cats, to to be vaccinated from this virus that they contracted because they lured my cat into their yard. A report has been filed and the local police are looking into the legalities of luring cats into a trap.

    I don’t mean to ramble, I would just like everyone to have both sides of the story.

  2. We took in a stray cat when our daughter was born. We took her in to get her shots and to be spayed. When she scratched baby daughter in the crib my wife also had her de-clawed, I would not do that again. She slept inside at night but did go out in the yard occasionally. With no claws I could not let her roam because she could not defend herself. After 15 yeas we had to have her put down. We are now a dog family, my dog sleeps inside and I have a fenced back yard and a kennel.

    We love our pets and are responsible pet owners. Of course the right thing to do is have you pet spayed or neutered, keep them in control and clean up after them. But we must remember, they are still just animals. In 2005 20 million animals were slaughtered every day for food. Killing a cow is no less gruesome than killing a cat or dog. We as humans put some different value on pets than we do on livestock and I for one don’t see why? I am sure the cow or chicken wanted to live just as much as Fido or Sylvester.

  3. I never understood the argument about not feeding the stray cats because “then they would kill all the birds”. Um, reality check here. ANY cat will kill birds whether they’re feral or someone’s beloved pet. But if you’re feeding stray cats, I would think at least they wouldn’t be constantly hunting to get food and would therefore kill fewer birds – or at least only as many birds as your family cats. And on a positive note, feeding the stray cats will help them resist disease and yes, while they don’t die in great numbers anymore, they are also less apt to get sick and then pass that sickness on to the pet cats that also run loose.

    The real reason for not feeding strays should be so they will not continue to breed and reproduce. I think the smartest thing anyone could do would be to trap the cats, spay and neuter them, and then turn them loose again. Of course, part of the problem with that is so many of these cats are probably sick too, and need more than just spaying and neutering.

    On the other hand though, many people let their pet cats run loose, and if they were to be caught up and spayed and neutered in the round up, that would be a good thing. I’m sure one of the reasons there are so many kittens is because of the number of people who refuse to have their own pets spayed or neutered as well.

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