The Unheard Voices in Our Community: What YOU Can Do About It
When you see a stray cat in your community, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you immediately want to feed him and take him inside? Maybe you want to catch him and bring him to the shelter? Or perhaps you ignore him and go on your way?
The reality is that stray cats, now termed “community cats”, have become an epidemic not only in Northwest Indiana, but nationwide, and there is no easy solution. “Community cat” is an umbrella definition that includes any un-owned cat. The majority of shelters admit many more cats than can be placed into adoptive homes. This generally results in overcrowding and the ultimately death of millions of cats. Since the Humane Society Calumet Area does not euthanize for space, the cages fill up quickly. When the shelter is full, many cats will have to wait for admission until space is created by adoptions or transfer to another facility. By maintaining a responsible number of cats at the shelter, the animals are healthier, the staff is better able to serve the animals and the public and medical costs have been reduced. Therefore, adoption of cats increased in 2012.
Many community cats are feral. Feral cats are a descendant of a domestic cat that has returned to the wild. Typically, they are not socialized and have adapted to living in the community. These cats have found a source of food and shelter just as other wild animals have. Because we are used to domesticated cats, it is instinctual to want to protect them or bring them inside. Feral cats become extremely stressed in the shelter environment and we almost always see a decline of health because of this. All of the feral cats that enter HSCA via animal control are re-homed to local barns after being spayed or neutered. However, there are simply not enough barns to accommodate the growing number of cats in the community.
So what is the solution? The capacities of most shelter programs are insufficient to decrease the number of outdoor cats in the community. No single organization, municipality or group can solve this overpopulation epidemic. We need to collaborate to change the perception of community cats and start a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) Program immediately. TNR is the ideal solution for un-owned, free-roaming cats in Northwest Indiana. Only then will we be able to end the suffering and needless euthanasia of cats in our area. Urge your municipality to partner with the Humane Society Calumet Area so that feral and community cats will not be trapped and euthanized. Instead, all feral cats should be sterilized, microchipped, ear tipped and returned to the community.
Humane Society Calumet Area, along with the Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic, is currently negotiating with one local municipality to become the very first “feral-friendly” TNR community. Who will it be? Is it your town? More information will be available in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about feral cats or TNR in your community, please feel free to contact me at 219-922-3811 extension 307.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.” - Gandhi