This and That About Cats and Kittens
- Robbie MacDougal, Shetland Sheepdog and canine journalist
My name is Robbie MacDougal, and I am a Shetland Sheepdog just like my sister Daisy Mae Delray.
Daisy was a canine journalist for almost 15 years, writing with Christina Richardson about issues of importance to animals and people alike. Daisy died the 15th of January, so I am taking over her column. She will be whispering in my ear, I am sure of that.
Puppy Dog Tales
The U.S. has an estimated 80 million feral cats and another 100 million pet cats — a number that has apparently tripled in the last 40 years. Females reach maturity at 6 months. Some can breed at 4 months. The calculations show that a breeding pair of cats could produce 354,294 descendants in five years, if all survived. Gad! That is a lot of cats.
My neighbor has a couple of outdoor cats who are neutered and are up-to-date on their shots. The only issues they could cause are if they go after the local birds.
Did you know that house cats kill somewhere between 1.3 and 4 billion birds every year in the U.S., according to the Audubon Society? Feral cats kill another 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals. Yipes!
Some people put bells on their cats, and other have used a BirdsBeSafe collar. This is a neat idea that my neighbor told me about. Her cat collars are the breakaway kind with reflective tape.
Then we have another category, feral cats. These are cats who are born and grow up in the wild. Some cats are abandoned and turn semi-feral. The problem is that if they are not spayed or neutered they will produce lots and lots of kittens.
One of my neighbors just picked up a trap from us to catch two male cats who have been living under their porch. The neighbor will use one of the Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County free spay/neuter vouchers to make these two cat fellas unable to be dads. No more yowling, and less fighting and fewer kittens. The Trap/Neuter/Release program has helped, but more of these free roaming no-owner cats need to be fixed.
If you are a cat lover, I invite you to think about what you can do to help. All of your cats should be fixed so they cannot reproduce. We brought in one feral cat we were unable to touch for over a year. She roamed and hid in the house. Boo did well with the litter box but as she was not spayed we began to notice a kitchen curtain that was yellow on the bottom. We had to trap her to get her spayed to stop the spraying.
Outdoor cats need to be fixed as well. Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County has no co-pay (that would be free) spay and neuter vouchers available for indoor, outdoor, and feral cats. Visit friendsoftheanimalshelter.org for additional information. FYI, they also have vouchers for dogs.
Another thing cat lovers can do is to make room for just one more. There are so many lovely cats who wind up in shelters and who need good homes. The Hancock County Animal Shelter Facebook page lists available cats and kittens. Like this one!
Thank you for reading my first column. I think I need a sign-off, so here goes:
Love is all there is — spread it everywhere!