I am responding to Anna Sorrentino’s letter of May 5th.
Observing stray cats fending for themselves is distressing to most people. Unfortunately, stray cats are not the problem---they are the symptoms of the problem. The underlying cause is the irresponsible, uneducated people who fail to spay/neuter their cats allowed outdoors, and or dump/abandon them upon relocation—a criminal act.
Studies show that most area residents have great compassion for these animals who are the victims of their former owners. Studies show that the average life expectancy of a stray cat is two years, as they often fall victim to exposure, starvation/malnutrition, worms, parasites, predation, vehicles, etc.
It is immoral and unethical to punish the victims. And we must not penalize the people who have and show compassion for the homeless. Trap/neuter/release programs have proved successful in curtailing the population (www.alleycat.org, www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cat) and cats are inoculated for rabies and distemper and are identified by an ear-notch. Maintained colonies are the best solution, as most area residents are happy that homeless cats will at least have their basic needs met. In neighborhoods where cats are to be trapped and destroyed, divisiveness ensues and people will not cooperate.
It is not reliable to attempt to differentiate a pet cat from a stray, and it is legal for cats to be able to roam. In all 50 states, it is illegal to kill a cat. Poisoning a cat is a serious vigilante and cruelty crime, punishable under New Jersey’s Title IV; it must be taken seriously by our municipal law enforcement. Killing cats via food laced with poison is indiscriminate. Victims can also be pet cats, birds, wildlife and even dogs walked on leashes, as poisoned morsels of food can be dispersed.
As with most perpetual issues, an investment must be made to address the root cause....efforts to prevent the continual replenishment of homeless cats. This can be done through a comprehensive program of education, facilitating dialogue/communication, spay/neuter, law enforcement for criminal acts, and not least of all tolerance and sympathy for these creatures who genuinely are the victims.
Janet Piszar, Founder
PUBLIC TRUST Wildlife Management
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