How I Really Feel About Cats

| by | Add Comment

First of all, a big thank you to all of you who took the time to respond after our film Cat Crazed aired last week on the CBC.  Most of you were quite complimentary.  To those who took offense, I’d like to respond briefly.

Because I disagree with you doesn’t make me a cat hater.  In fact, we made the film because we want more cats to live and live better lives.  After doing much research I concluded, based upon all the evidence, that cats lived better, longer lives spayed and neutered and indoors.  Yes, cats love to hunt.  And so do dogs. But we domesticated both animals and have responsibility for their welfare and the damage they do to other species. As a society, we no longer tolerate packs of wild roaming dogs (except in remote areas and even then we do our best to control them) and we can’t afford to allow cats to roam either.   Partly to protect birds, but also, for the cats!

My position on feral cat colonies and trap/neuter/return:  to be tolerated and an interim solution at best. Mostly because I too oppose mass euthanasia. Sure as hell wouldn’t sleep nights if I was the one who had to pull the plug on dozens of cats every day.  But it’s time for some serious science on TNR.  We need studies done by biologists and population ecologists to see whether TNR truly reduces the size of colonies over time.  Not vets. Vets aren’t trained to do this work. And when feral cat colonies are situated near wildlife sanctuaries and endangered bird populations, the cats must be moved.   And as for the enthusiastic politicking by trap/neuter/return advocates urging municipalities coast to coast to put cash into supporting their work – let’s make that decision based on science, not sentimentality.   The very best thing municipalities can do right now for cats, is insist upon licensing them. And work with cat groups to ensure ferals aren’t vulnerable to euthanasia as a result.

I’m a dog person. I’m also a cat person. And a bird person. But mostly I’m a person that thinks about the interconnectedness of all things on the planet. We’re all in mighty big trouble.  Many solutions to serious environmental problems involve tens of billions of dollars and decades of intergovernmental panel discussions.  Yet some solutions are within our reach. If you could drop 10 bucks on a license, spay and neuter your cat, keep it indoors and ultimately save the lives of millions of cats, why can’t we just do it?      –  Maureen

6 Responses to “How I Really Feel About Cats”

  1. maria soroski

    What do you propose to do about the thousands of feral cats in surrey bc? Their kittens are brought in by the hundreds to the surrey spca. The spca has a vet clinic that offers no cost spay and neuter of owned cats for low income owners but most if any owners take advantage of it. The city of surrey also has a cat spay neuter bylaw, but animal control tells me it is unenforceable, people just dont pay the fine, they also dont have the manpower to go around and fine people and get them to comply. Also the animal control has the ability to trap ferals to get them fixed but there is no money from the city to fix the ferals so it is not done.
    How do you propose licensing would solve this?
    What would you propose to do with all the thousands of feral cats left to keep breeding?

  2. Jen

    I would like to see the much research you did. You could have interviewed some of the scientists who have done studies on TNR instead of apparently come to your conclusions from reading a few selective quotes in the TNR Reality check website from their studies.

    How is licensing going to do anything? Animal Control does not have the dedication or resources to trap stray and feral cats like volunteers do at no cost to the public.

    How come you didn’t interview people like Nathan Winograd in your “extensive research” who could explain why licensing doesn’t solve the feral cat problem? What if people have multiple cats? Then it’s not $10 but $60 or more a year. What if licensing makes poor people hide from proper veterinary care, where they would be dinged and reported as non-licensed? Are you recommending marginalizing the poor, that they should not be allowed to have a cat companion? What if Animal Control takes their cat but they can’t afford the $200 fine to get it back? That’s just cruelty to the poor and elderly — taking their cat and holding it for a ransom they can’t afford.

    Animal Control can’t get search warrants for people’s homes who don’t want them tresspassing on their property, and what a cost that would be — it would take up more than the licensing to send officers around to do a cat census. And research shows the “responsible” people who cooperate and buy licenses already have 98% or 99% spayed and neutered their cats already. The money the licenses raise then goes to the bureaucracy of trying to get the 1-2% of people in urban areas that don’t already spay and neuter to do it, but again, if they are hiding because of the laws, then the dedicated volunteers can at least trap and neuter at the other end.

    Personally, I would rather choose where my money to the animals goes. I donate to VOKRA because their work is valuable in solving the problem that an outsider doing cursory research with a preliminary bias and advisors from ABC and TNR Reality Check would not understand. Furhtermore, as your doc did mention, the feral cat situation in Canada due to climate is not like the States. Why focus on the States. Isn’t this supposed to be Canadian content? So you want my money diverted to a useless license. Why didn’t you ask Carol Reikert of Richmond Animal Protection Society why licensing doesn’t work?

    If the TNR groups are “unsustainable” to use your eco-language, it will be because you will force the donations away from those groups because of having to spend on licenses.

    In Vancouver we have low-cost and free spay and neuter already for low income people — not only at the SPCA but there are private vets in this city that will do it for $40 to $70 for anyone, although the BCVMA has tried unsuccessfully to close down those vets due to fear the lower rates will cause harm to other vets.

    I am not impressed with your documentary and your claims to care equally about cats, dogs, and birds. You did not research this seriously or in depth at all. You focussed on places that have nothing to do with Canada’s feral cat issues. You did the documentary thing of showing “controversy” over a false issue of cats and birds, and the “war” between the cat and bird people. Most ferals live in cities where 80% of North American population lives, but you showed examples of ferals in places where most ferals don’t live. Birds in dense cities are not rare or threatened species and are not in decline. In the heart of New York or Vancouver or Calgary, in back alleys and industrial sites and train tracks, please tell me the endangered birds. However, you completely evaded, based on your prejudices, the real controversy, over cat licensing and its alleged benefits itself. It is quite appalling, and you should be lying awake at night because your documentary’s recommendations, if enacted, will cause death and suffering to a lot more cats and people than it would supposedly help.

    • John

      Jennifer oganizations were interviewed such as Meow Foundation and others. i spoke with Debbie from Meow Foundation in Calgary they were interviewed and filmed but completely edited out (from her email reply to me).

      Meow Foundation stands behind TNR so go figure…..

      • Bountiful Films

        John. You are welcome to post your opinions on the documentary here but comments that are personally insulting and in fact libelous will continue to be removed.

    • catbird

      “Birds in dense cities are not rare or threatened species and are not in decline. In the heart of New York or Vancouver or Calgary, in back alleys and industrial sites and train tracks, please tell me the endangered birds.”

      Have you not been to Central Park in NY? 275 species of birds have been seen there. The point is that places like Central Park and other ‘habitat islands’ or green patches are critical stopover sites for migratory birds. And why should all this only apply to rare or threatened or endangered species? Save the plover, but screw the robin? Too bad if a cat gets her? Many common birds today ARE in decline as noted by the National Audubon Society and The State of the Birds report from 2009.

      Licensing can help identify the source of unowned cats, places value on the cats, is a source of income for municipalities, and gets rid of the double standard out there between dogs and cats as companion animals.

  3. Vicky Smith

    Why do you feel that TNR is “to be tolerated and an interim solution”?

    Conservation biologists already have an opinion:

    If future studies indicated that TNR didn’t reduce the cat population sufficiently – or fast enough – (depending on your viewpoint – and cause for more heated debate), then what? Would that make it alright to kill thousands of cats? Perhaps someone can do a documentary, of all those cats being “humanely” killed.

    Instead of licensing pets, using microchips or tattoos may be of more benefit. (Check my comment of January 13th, at blog post “Cat Crazed – Watch the Film Then Decide:”


Leave a Reply