A current blog by George Smith claims that Australian officials will soon kill millions of feral cats, and that, in George’s experience, such felines are ‘killing machines.’
If the first statement is true, then shame on Australia for not having anticipated the situation long before it became a problem and not dealing with it sooner by creating a spay/neuter program similar to what animal shelters and activists have done here in Maine. It’s a program that has proved highly effective, though that has not protected it from periodic legislative attack that has attempted (so far unsuccessfully) to reduce or eliminate its funding.
As for killing machines, that dubious title is best reserved for humans who’ve been killing since the dawn of recorded history (as well as long before) and have, especially over recent time, gotten very efficient at it, exterminating in ever larger numbers, and with increasingly lethal technology, members of their own species.
And they do so for reasons that would never occur to cats. After all, felines don’t start wars, they don’t target creatures based on their religion or their politics or the color of their skin. They can be possessive of their territory, but not in the sense of a country or a national boundary. A cursory (and incomplete) review of human history reveals a virtually unbroken cavalcade of aggression from the Crusades to the War of the Roses, to the Thirty Years War to King Philip’s War, to the French and Indian War to Civil Wars (English, American, Spanish), to the American Revolution to the devastating global wars of the twentieth century right up to the ongoing conflicts of the modern age, all with no end in sight. If any creatures are hard-wired to kill, it has to be us. In any case, felines don’t snare other animals in steel traps or shoot them out of trees after they’ve been driven to exhaustion by hounds or bait them with junk food and stale donuts. Those are methods devised by humans, the so-called ‘superior’ species, a designation we’ve bestowed upon ourselves, despite the fact that our progress toward achieving justice and eliminating violence has for many been infinitesimally slow.
Smith implies that feral cats should be dispatched here in Maine before their numbers create another Australia, but he and his pro-hunting cohorts are on flimsy moral ground. It’s an expected opinion from George, considering his continuing connection to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine which he once headed and his cozy relationship with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as well as the legislative committee which oversees it. After all, just as pilots are always looking for places to land, hunters are always looking for animals to kill.
A far better and more humane solution is to reduce the number of felines by neutering. It is the best approach to curtailing the population of feral cats as well as the responsible choice for every one who shares a home with a domesticated cat. I write this as one who has bonded with several of these bewhiskered, independent souls and have been much the richer for the experience. I’ve learned first-hand how they can be affectionate and companionable. I also know that, because of the sheer numbers involved, it’s a daunting challenge to give all of them the loving care and protection they deserve. I am equally certain that the challenge should be met with compassion.