Fixing The Cat Overpopulation Problem
The Cat overpopulation problem is a serious one in our community. Many cat owners allow their cats to reproduce and the resulting kittens end up as strays or in our shelter. Last year (Jan-Dec 2011), 4562 cats were killed at the shelter. From Jan 1 thru May 31 2012, 1238 cats had been killed at the shelter. This reflects a 23 percent reduction over the 1604 cats killed from January thru May 2011, and 32 percent less than the 1809 cats killed from January thru May 2010. Although the numbers are decreasing, due in part to many volunteer programs such as "The Big Kitty Fix" and "Project Save a Kitten," we cannot begin to FIX this problem until we curtail the repulsive human behavior that is the cause.
Stray cats do not know how to fend for themselves, as many people would like to think. A number of people in our community set their cats free simply because they are not cute little kittens any longer or their behavior became offensive largely due to a heat cycle in an intact female or spraying from an intact male. As for the estimated number of “stray cats”, the numbers vary widely, depending on the mathematical model you choose. Based on the PetSmart Charities model (number of human inhabitants divided by 15), in Dona Ana County which has about 200,000 human residents, there are approximately 13,500 free-roaming cats! WOW! This is ludicrous! Primarily due to people who “set them free” without FIXING them. So how can we curtail this offensive human behavior? Let us count the ways.
Spay and Neuter:
The obvious solution. We have multiple organizations in town that assist with sterilization at very low cost. There really is no excuse not to get your pet’s fixed. $25 to $35 is extremely reasonable. Call SNAP at 524-9265 for assistance or drop by their office on Picacho across from the Peddlers Pavilion for assistance.
For more information www.snapnewmexico.org or www.ascmv.org for low cost spay and neuter.
Adopt more cats: It costs an average of $1 per day to feed and buy litter for one to two cats. So stop your frivolous spending on clothes and booze and get another cat. The entertainment value alone is worth it. The ASCMV has beautiful, healthy, FIXED cats and kittens ready for adoption. Intact obnoxious behavior not included.
Fence your Cat in:
Since most cats that end of at the shelter get there because they were “loose” (duh!) then why not contain them? Cat fencing can be very economical for the do-it-yourselfer. You can buy deer fencing on line and attach it to your existing fence or porch, creating a roof and Shazaam! Kitty is now enclosed. Having trouble wrapping your mind around this concept? Then visit www.purrfectfence.com. They are beautiful and easy to install. And if you fence in a large area, then adopt another cat. They are soooo cute! Fencing also protects them from predators like coyotes and hawks.
Don’t Feed the Strays:
As cruel as this may sound, it is even crueler to feed stray cats that you are unable to capture and fix right away. By feeding the stray you will trigger their body into a reproductive cycle to have a larger litter of kittens. Just like wild animals, they reproduce when the “gettin’ is good”. Then all of a sudden you have more mouths to feed, then disease strikes, then bad weather strikes, then the loose pit bull strikes. The horrible maladies that can wreak havoc on these small innocent creatures and prolong their suffering now became ALL YOUR FAULT. So if you are going to feed a stray be prepared to capture and fix it immediately. You have won half the battle by doing this. Unfortunately, there are not any cat-specific rescue organizations in this area.
Many of the local organizations mentioned in this article try to work with people on a case-by-case basis, providing guidance and access to resources as much as possible to help them foster and/or re-home cats that they’re dealing with. Many times the shelter is the only avenue. Just keep in mind, the shelter does not kill the animals, OUR COMMUNITY does! Bad human behavior is the cause.
Most of you reading this article already know the benefits of spay and neuter and you are not the cause, but you probably know someone who is. Give them this article and tell them to be a part of the solution. If they need help with food, refer them to Action Programs for Animals Food Bank, www.actionprogramforanimals.org.
It would be nice to have more adoption venues for cats. Right now, we are severely limited in that area. Here are some Facebook sites that folks can use to post information on a lost or found animal.(http://www.facebook.com/LostAndFoundPetsLasCruces), or an animal needing a new home (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pets-for-Adoption-Las-Cruces/388670697823685).
And if you are a person reading this article who is NOT part of the problem, think about donating and/or becoming a foster. Foster homes are in GREAT need in our community. A foster volunteer can rehabilitate a homeless cat into a healthy adorable adoptable feline.
There is lot’s of work to be done! Let’s ALL step up to the plate and FIX it!
Article by Kat Lacy of Better Life Pet Foods in Las Cruces.