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16 June 1999 Issue
Feral Cats

So, you ask, what exactly is a feral cat??? Read on, and you'll learn more
about a problem that's causing a lot of suffering -- and costing you money!!!

Feral cats are the 'wild' offspring of domestic cats and are primarily the result
of pet owners' abandonment or failure to spay and neuter their animals, allow-
ing them to breed uncontrolled. Feral cat 'colonies' can be found behind
shopping areas or businesses, in alleys, parks, abandoned buildings, and rural
areas. They are elusive and do not trust humans.

Many people assume their animals will survive when they move away and leave
them behind. Contrary to popular belief, domestic animals do not automatically
return to their "natural" instincts and cannot fend for themselves! Already, U.S.
animal shelters are forced to kill an estimated 8 million homeless cats and
dogs annually. The alternative to humane euthanasia for almost every stray is
a violent end or slow, painful death. Many "throwaways" die mercilessly out-
doors from starvation, disease, abuse -- or as food to a predator.

A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can
exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period, And the
overpopulation problem carries a hefty price tag. Statewide, more than $50
million (largely from taxes) is spent by animal control agencies and shelters for
cat-related expenses.

In response to this staggering problem, the Feral Cat Coalition was formed by
Sally Mackler and Rochelle Brinton DVM. The FCC is an organization that
traps and spays/neuters feral cats, then returns them to their caretakers. This
service is provided to the community at no cost by licensed veterinarians and
volunteers with one goal in mind: reducing the enormous number of homeless,
unwanted cats.

Studies have proven that trap-neuter-release is the single most successful
method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cat colonies with the least
possible cost to local governments and residents, while providing the best life
for the animals themselves. Spaying/neutering homeless cats:

~ Stabilizes the population at manageable levels
~ Eliminates annoying behaviors associated with mating
~ Is humane to the animals and fosters compassion in the neighborhoods
~ Is more effective and less costly than repeated attempts at extermination --
costs for repeatedly trapping and killing feral colonies are far higher than
promoting stable, non-breeding colonies in the same location. Vacated
areas are soon filled by other cats who start the breeding process over
again.

How can you be a part of the solution?

In the San Diego County area...

Spay or neuter your own pet! Sterilizing animals is an important step in main-
taining their good health. In San Diego, Pet Assistance (619-544-1222) can
provide information on low-cost spay/neuter services in your area.

Make a reservation, then bring stray, unowned cats to one of our monthly
clinics! Humane traps (with instructions) are available to borrow. Become a
volunteer and encourage your personal veterinarian to become involved!

Tell people about the FCC! If someone you know is caring for stray, unowned
cats let them know about our services. Education is the key, so make others
aware of the feral cat problem and tell them how they can help!

Outside of the greater San Diego area...

If you are interested in starting a program in your area, contact the Feral Cat
Coalition. We have detailed information that will help you get up and
running....plus, some of it is just interesting reading. Most of our printed
information is available by following the link below.

Feral Cat Coalition
http://www.feralcat.com/

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