OPINION: A cat call for common sense

missing cat
Special to the Daily News
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 09:22 AM.

This story has many beginnings, all dependent on what degree of fantasy the reader is inclined to accept and from whom. It does however, arrive at the same ending.

Once upon a time, a stray cat found its way to the doorstep of someone who thought that a little food would make everything better for the poor creature. Soon there are two cats and then three, and before long cute kittens.  What was once a single needy cat has become a population of 10, 20 and more. All with the same desperate needs as those of the original visitor.

What started as an innocent act of compassion grew to become a problem too large to be fixed with a bowl of milk and a plate of food. If only the world were such that all the stray cats had homes where they were cared for and loved — one in which those who suggest they have concern for the well-being of these pitiful creatures, contributed the full measure of compassion and care. Not just the feel good effort of feeding them, then going back to their lives with a sense that they have made the world a better place. One in which they truly accepted the entire bundle of responsibilities that reflect an honest concern for the well-being and plight of these unfortunates.

It is simply not enough to have compassion without commitment. Feeding stray and homeless animals without addressing the health and reproductive elements that affect their lives and the environment they inhabit is animal cruelty of the worst kind because it is all too often misinterpreted as virtue.

The reality is that the availability of food affords the unimpeded growth of additional homeless and uncared for cats. This drama of life and death doesn’t play out in a vacuum. There are often humans, their pets, wild birds and other natural wildlife in these neighborhoods that must accommodate these growing populations who collectively become part of the collateral damage. Even an act of kindness requires the acceptance of responsibility. The compassionate hearts, in their effort to do something — anything — end up making the world of these animals and all around them, worse than before.   

It comes as no surprise when the worlds of those who like to be referred to as “caregivers” collide with those residents of the area (most of whom are responsible pet owners). As the unrestricted cat population grows and its members need space to wander, hunt, sun themselves and fertilize without boundaries, what was once a single cat in apparent need is now lost in the anonymity of the many.

As any cat owner is aware, cats have numerous unique characteristics, one of which is the sharpening of their claws. It is the price one is willing to pay when it is your pet and your furniture. It becomes quite a different thing when the claw sharpener is the convertible car top or boat cover or outdoor furniture cushions used for that purpose.

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