After these unfortunate animals are re-abandoned, they are regularly fed, which draws more feral cats and encourages more re-abandonment.This, of course, led to angry responses from cat lovers. Audubon, which has tried to walk a careful line through the middle of this war, suspended Williams and removed him name from their masthead. Their spokesman told National Geographic,
One intact male can impregnate dozens of females, so trying to reduce cat populations by TNR is like, well, herding cats.
It's dangerous — because feral cats are reservoirs for disease. Three studies reveal that 62 percent to 80 percent carry toxoplasmosis. Feral cats are now the most common domestic rabies vector. In Florida, where rabid cats attack people, the state Department of Health warns that TNR "is not tenable on public health grounds because of the persistent threat posed to communities from injury and disease." A TNR colony at Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., was removed because rabid cats were biting children.
It's cruel — because feral cats lack vet care and suffer from injuries and the same diseases they spread. They infect lynx, bobcats and endangered Florida panthers with feline leukemia, distemper and an AIDS-like immune-deficiency disease.
We all need to work together on effective strategies that will address the very serious harm cats inflict on birds and other wildlife and that are also truly humane toward cats.But of course Williams was only saying in public what most of Audubon's readers and writers all believe, so he will no doubt find some other beat.
If you have any real experience with feral cat colonies, you will recognize some of what Williams says. Around here feeding stations for feral cats are often visited by raccoons, who get so fat off cat food that they waddle to and from the bowls, and probably other wild animals, which leads to the spreading of diseases and other problems. Many feral cats are pretty disreputable looking, with missing, eyes, ears, and so on. But the tone of Williams' piece is nonetheless very strange, since he mainly dwells on the suffering of feral cats denied veterinary care and the like. Of course wild animals are also denied veterinary care, and wild deer, raccoons, etc. are often a scroungy lot just as feral cats are; does Williams think we should euthanize them to spare their suffering?
I venture one prediction: it will be a long time, if ever, before cat people and bird people "work together" to solve a problem that cat people deny even exists.
More on this ongoing and ever fascinating conflict here.