Monday, March 28, 2005

When picking up cats does more harm than good

Number of cats the Society was asked to take over the long weekend :- Ten
Number of people who have written in to the Society to foster over the last week :- One

The AGM report is finished in anticipation of Wednesday's AGM. The report is a good stock-take of what we've done over the years, but it can be quite tiring to put together because of the sheer amount of information that goes in.

Also sent off some information to one of the condominiums that contacted us about trying to find an alternative solution to killing the cats in their estate. We have a cat management concept which we learnt about from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. This is called the Cat Cafe - and is the point at which responsible feeding is practiced by volunteers so that the cats can be sterilised and managed. I hope the condominium will let us do a presentation to convince them to try this new of sterilisation instead of killing.

Today I got an email from someone who picked up two cats and who says she cannot look after them any longer. She has wanted to find someone to take them over for a while. Unfortunately this is a very common request. The thing is - there is usually no one to take in these cats. We have only four or five fosters who are up to their neck in cats.

While I understand that people are kindhearted and want to help the cats, picking a cat up and then passing it to a welfare organisation is not an answer as most of the welfare groups are full. There are far more cats looking for homes than people who want cats.

Here are the situations where you should pick up a cat :-

1. You want to adopt the cat for its lifetime;
2. The cat is in a dangerous place and is imminent danger of being injured, abused or killed;
3. The cat is injured, paralysed or unable to live on the streets in the condition it is in;
4. The kitten has been abandoned.

These are the situations in which you should not pick up a cat :-

1. You want to give it to a welfare organisation or find a friend/neighbour/relative to take it - chances are everyone who wants a cat already has one, so your chances of finding it a home are slim. You might also deprive another cat of a home that desperately needs one, even if you can find a home;
2. When a cat is perfectly fine where it is - this may seem obvious, but many people pick up a cat which is happy where it is and take it home, only to find they cannot rehome it. If the cat is contented and safe where it is, please leave it there. If you feel bad, feed it and sterilise it where it is, but do not pick it up;
3. Where the mother cat has gone off to look for food - we have had many people pick up a kitten whose mother has wandered off for food. If you stand there, the mother cat will not return, and she can be gone for hours. Kittens need their mother's milk to survive, so please do not remove a kitten from the area unless you are absolutely sure that hours have passed and the mother has not returned.

While I would dearly like to see every cat in a home, this is not something that will happen anytime soon because there are just too many cats out there. Unless overpopulation is controlled via sterilisation, the number of cats needing homes will never decrease. In Costa Rica (which has an estimated population of 1/2 million cats), they found that when they started spending the money on sterilisation instead of sheltering, they needed less and less shelters because there were less cats on the street. In the US, shelters have reported that they have 50% less cats coming in when an aggressive sterilisation (rather than sheltering) policy is maintained. This of course means less cats are killed as a result.

So please, think twice before taking that cat off the street unless you personally are able to give it a home. Also, don't take in more cats than you can handle (like one lady someone wrote to us about today) but that's a story for another day.

Getting off soapbox now.

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