Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The great divide

I had someone else call this afternoon to complain about a resident trapping cats in the area she feeds in. She said that the cat has been left out in the trap - and she suspects that the cat has been left out in the sun. We have had a number of people write in or call about cat traps being put out and the cats being left exposed to the elements. So far, two of them have complained to the AVA in the last two weeks and I sincerely hope that the people using the traps will not be given more traps to use!

At the same time I asked if the woman who called had spoken with the complainants. Apparently they had turned over the first cat caught to the other feeder in the area. However subsequently when she went over, the complainant refused to hand the cats over. I asked her what the complaint was - and she mentioned it was defecation in the gardens.

One of the things I mentioned to the feeder who called was this - oftentimes the complainant thinks that the problem is the feeder. If there is no feeder, their logic often goes, then there would be no cats - and no problem. On the part of the feeder, the misconception is often that complainants are 'cat haters' and hence there is no point talking to them. Hence there is a huge divide and no communication.

I'm not saying that there aren't unreasonable people who don't want any cats ever and seem to enjoy trapping the cats. However I would say that they are in the minority and that most people want a solution - they don't necessarily want the cats killed. So what caregivers need to tell complainants is that there will always be cats there - and it has nothing to do with the feeding. In fact, running a TNRM programme will help to reduce the problem.

At the same time, trapping the cats doesn't solve the problem - and it doesn't mean new cats won't come in. Caregivers though can help to work with complainants to solve the problem in an effective AND humane method. Caregivers though need to act early - and not wait till the problem has gone on for so long that the complainants are thoroughly annoyed. Given an alternative, complainants may well take up the options suggested and refrain from trapping.

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