Feral cats get a bad rap here in Georgia and I am not sure why. Feral cats are those born out in the wild, no owner, and for the most part keep their distance from people. They are part of the ecosystem here in Cobb County Georgia and across the country. Whether or not they are indigenous to this country is another matter all together. The fact is that right now, today, feral cats are just as much a part of our wildlife as the raccoon, the opossum, the rodents, the coyotes, and the birds in my trees. Yet they fall under a completely different branch of government and therefore completely different regulations and rules apply to the feral cat. Does that sound fair or right to you?
True, life simply isn't fair for anyone, period. So why the fuss about the outdoor feral cats? Because no one is rounding up people that got a rough start and exterminating them (thank God) but we are allowing that very thing to go on in our community to feral cats.
Feral cats showed up in my neighborhood when the construction on Old 41 and Ernest Barrett Parkway began. This construction included demolishing quite a bit of the previously untouched nature between my neighborhood and the busy intersection. This happened to coincide with several neighbors' homes invaded by rats! Rats don't like my cat friendly home (thank you Jesus!) but in a townhouse community neighbors share walls. Rodents like to settle in the walls of homes and gnaw on electrical wires. When rodents get into your walls and chew on the electrical wires it becomes a very real and imminent fire hazard. You hear about the victims of these accidental fires on the morning news when you wake up in the morning in your safe and fire free home, all your belongings exactly where you left them the night before. Your loved ones all safe and alive. You hear details of the victims of these fires; they lost everything, they lost children, pets elderly parents that didn't make it out in time. Your heart just aches. What will they do? Where will they go? Those that didn't make it out, how long did they suffer?
When I think of rats I think of these victims and I know that it could just as easily have been my home. When I noticed the feral cats in my neighborhood I exhaled a sigh of relief -- Yay! The cats will eliminate or run off the rats -- problem solved! The arrival of the feral cats in my neighborhood was like seeing the fire truck show up to put out flames before your entire home is lost -- huge, huge sigh of relief.
Feral cats are afraid of people, even the people who feed them, therefore they are not adoptable. Ferals will bite, scream and scratch if you attempt to hold them. They are wild animals, not pets and not adoptable. All non-adoptable animals are killed by animal control if they enter their system. There is no reason for them to take up limited space and eat the limited food when there is no chance for them to find a permanent home.
Cobb County Georgia local ordinance dictates 'no outdoor cats.' So no chance that your local animal control will participate in spay/neuter, vaccinate and release if they share the same or similar ordinance. The ferals have no chance, no rights. They are not adoptable because they are wild animals but they fall under county rules and regulations that apply to pet animals, owned by county residents. Wild squirrels, birds, rodents and all other wild animals fall under a completely different branch of government and therefore are not subject to the same rules, regulations or ordinances as that of feral cats. Feral cats are singled-out and caught up in technicalities.
You can help the feral cats in your area by contacting your congress people and explain the problem with the ordinances as they are written and executed. Explain the value that the feral cats provide to communities by keeping the rodent population in check. If you feed the cats well in the day when the birds are active their tummies will be too full to bother with the flying critters. Their success rate with catching birds is slim to none but keeping their bellies full in the day time and only the day time will ensure the safety of the bird population while still keeping the rodent population under control.
Feral cats protect people from the destruction of rodents and have ever since man decided to settle instead of roam. Eliminating the ferals is a mistake once made may not be reversible. Remember your history, The Black Plague for starters. Once the people decided that cats must be killed and eliminated it allowed a plague caused by rats and their droppings to sweep across Asia and Europe. Historians estimate that 30% - over 60% of the population in those regions were wiped out by the plague.
Many people are smart and resourceful but the rodents and some insect species can and will outlast us all if you eliminate their predators. These rodents and insects have evolved to the point that they are resistant to most toxic chemicals, thus causing exterminators up the anti so to speak. These extremely toxic chemicals contaminate the environment, the air we breath, our water supply. Man was not meant to spend his time and resources fighting rodents and insects. Nature provided the checks and balances for our ecosystem. Don't allow government, ordinances and red tape, man made issues to get in the way of what is right and what is wrong.
Replace pine straw with something unattractive to cats like beautiful rocks and boulders, plants, shrubs and a colorful array of flowers. There are cat deterrent sprays and high sonic frequency gadgets that cats can hear but you and I can not. The sight, sound or smell of dogs will deter most cats.
Never stop pushing for changes in the law and local ordinances to protect these beautiful and wonderful creatures that are here for a reason. Your elected officials work for you. Unite with your local and national humane societies that work to protect the rights of feral cats. You will get many excuses and many "no, not possible because ......." along the path of change but do not let that deter you. There was a day not too long ago when children, women, slaves and free men had no rights because of their religion or heritage, gender or classification as property. They all heard "NO" many times over in their fight to change the world but they eventually prevailed. Many battles will be lost along the way but this war is not over until the ferals are protected from 'catch and slaughter' by law. In Washington DC they recently fought this very battle with their local government and they WON!
More info on the changes in the law aimed at protecting feral cats recently enacted in Washington DC can be found here: http://www.examiner.com/article/feral-cat-protection-bill-becomes-law-d-....
WHEN YOU HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL POSSIBILITIES REMEMBER THIS: YOU HAVEN'T. Thomas Edison