Community Cats – What’s the Big Deal?

Motley kitten standing on a background of flowers

I have been aware of community cats in my neighborhood for many years but first really started interacting with them about 3 years ago when I began to see some on a regular basis.  I am baffled by the ongoing controversy and frustration they cause and the level of anger people have about them.

It doesn’t bother me when someone simply doesn’t take an interest in community cats.  They have their own agenda – their own lives – it’s not a cause that interests them.  And that’s fine.  Not everyone has to agree with my interests and passions.  I personally set my own limits and involvement and choose to help the community cats directly in my neighborhood, so I certainly can’t criticize those who don’t want to participate.  They don’t have to.

What bothers me is those who seem to get angry about community cats and even go out of their way to hurt the people taking care of them or sabotage the food or environment the cats live in.  Or worse – they try to hurt and kill the cats.  I don’t get it.  A couple of years ago an LA Firefighter beat a woman who was feeding feral cats. It doesn’t make sense.  Why such anger over something that really doesn’t affect him at all?  Was it because she didn’t do something he wanted?  Was it that he wasn’t in control of everything around him?

A neighbor of mine recently commented that she didn’t like the feral cats around because they walked on her car and she had to use her windshield wipers to clean the paw prints off her window.  This is the biggest concern in her life?  We should all be so lucky to have such few problems that using windshield wipers a few days a week is a big deal.  Another neighbor yelled at me because he had to wash his car because of paw prints.  I’m not clear why a towel to wipe off the paw prints wouldn’t suffice but mostly, I don’t understand the aggression or anger.  This is someone who crawled through bushes to throw away food.  He called the cats “wild animals” and even equated them to bugs.  The cats never hurt him and always run when he’s around.  Where does this anger come from?  I fail to understand this raw emotion over something that doesn’t really have an effect on his life.  I understand that he likely didn’t grow up with cats, but I fail to understand the anger.  Especially over an animal that can be a pet, with feelings and love to give.

I do believe that having a Trap Neuter Release program for Community Cats is important to have everywhere.  Trap Neuter Release means that cats deemed as feral (meaning the cats are too fearful to be handled by humans) are trapped, spayed or neutered, then released back to where they are found.

According to the ASPCA, TNR helps feral cats because “by stabilizing the population, cats will naturally have more space, shelter and food, and fewer risks of disease. After being spayed or neutered, cats living in colonies tend to gain weight and live healthier lives.” The ASPCA also noted that “By neutering male cats, you also reduce the risk of injury and infection, since intact males have a natural instinct to fight with other cats. Spaying also means female cats do not go into heat. That means they attract fewer tom cats to the area, reducing fighting. If cats are sterilized and live in a colony that has a caretaker, they may live more than 10 years.”

My dream would be for people to just let the cats live their lives.  They don’t bother humans – and it’s not their fault that they are out there.  The reality is that the cats can be very helpful.  They kill rodents and offer a cute accessory to any building or garden.  They are sweet to look at – and deserve to live in any neighborhood just as much as humans do.

Pam Allison is one of the founders of MeowWoofChirp.  She has been involved in cat rescue since 2012 and is a regular volunteer with Kitten Rescue, one of the largest cat rescue organizations in Los Angeles.  She has trapped over 20 cats in and around her building, releasing the ferals back to the neighborhood and finding the tame cats homes.  You can see more about her cats at http://www.meowwoofchirp.com/members/pamallison/.