by Brenda Malinics
Most people do not realize the staggering problem of overpopulation of stray and feral dogs and cats in Philadelphia. A “feral” cat is unsterilized, unsocialized and fearful of humans, the result of abandonment or loss by its owners. As an animal advocate who has rescued thousands of animals, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sterilization for all dogs, cats and other pets.
In addition to educating people about the many important reasons for sterilization, we need laws to mandate these procedure. We also need more low-cost and traveling spay/neuter clinics. What I’ve learned from working and trapping in “The Hood” is that impoverished people do not have extra money for sterilization, so they allow their pets to continuously breed. Sterilization of a female can cost several hundred dollars at a private vet. Most poor people do not own cars, so it is difficult for them to transport their pets to a clinic. Even a pet carrier to safely transport an animal on a bus is an expensive luxury.
I try to find permanent homes for all the friendly cats that I trap or find in the street, but some are too feral to be placed. I have those ferals tested for leukemia and AIDS, vaccinated, sterilized, treated for worms and fleas, and return them to the location from which they came. This practice is all Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR is a non-lethal, cost effective, humane solution to controlling and decreasing the feral cat population over time.
According to the Baltimore Humane Society, two uncontrolled breeding cats can become over 80 MILLION cats in just 10 years if all their kittens and all their kittens’ kittens (if none of the offspring are sterilized) have two litters per year with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter and have a 10-year breeding life!!
Sterilization also helps eliminate behaviors associated with mating and improves the cats’ relationship with their community. Other studies have proven that over time, feral colonies stabilize. And feral cats are also excellent rodent control.
If you see a stray cat in the neighborhood, please don’t look the other way in the hope that someone else will rescue it from hunger, cold, pain and fear. It is up to each one of us to help and to stop the reproduction of animals who are destined to become strays and wind up in shelters where there is now a national trend to become “no kill.”
This move is favored by the majority, who do not realize that the homeless and injured animals on the street will have nowhere to go when a shelter can refuse to accept additional animals if their maximum capacity has been reached.
The web contains much information about TNR, low-cost clinics and local rescues. The Philadelphia Community Cats Council is a group of volunteers whose mission is to reduce the number of cats in Philadelphia through TNRM (Manage after Return). BrendasCatRescue has many awesome cat and kitten rescues desperate for adoption. If you can’t adopt, consider becoming a temporary foster to one of those cats so desperate for a lap, a pet, a playmate. The love and loyalty of a pet turns a house into a home.
Brenda Malinics, who is also a certified bat expert, is the founder of Brenda’s Cat Rescue, based in Andorra. Brenda and her team of volunteers have rescued countless hundreds of stray, abandoned and abused cats and kittens in recent years and have found foster homes or permanent homes for many of them. Contact 215-872-1636 or BrendasCatRescue.org for more information.