In theory, the elected aldermen and professional managers who run cities make decisions based on facts of efficiency and service to the public. That’s the easy part because in reality they often deal with human emotions from those who pay taxes and live within the town in their care. Sometimes those issues are the most confounding.
And often they are not a major issue for a town but they are a frustrating aggravation for a neighborhood. Feral cats are one of those issues. People are emotional about animals.
The fate of living life is being decided, not which potholes to patch. The issue recently went before the Dearborn Board of Aldermen.
My hope would be that every aldermen and animal control officer in Platte County would take the following approach. When feral cats become a nuisance in a neighborhood, they should be trapped and given humane euthanasia.
This is counter to what some people want who have adopted feral cats as a cause and crusade. They pitch the idea of trapping, neutering and then re-releasing the cats. Sometimes they favor the idea of letting the animal rejoin a feral cat colony.
I’d prefer that people and their pets receive priority over feral cats. I have experience with both kinds.
Think not that I’m a cat hater.
Contrary, I’ve enjoyed numerous pet cats in my life. Currently there are two roaming the household I support. For one of those, I spent money on an expensive veterinary bill after it was hit by a car.
But feral cats are a problem for people, pets and wildlife.
It’s no fun to hear yowling in the yard and see your favorite cat being harassed by a stray. Far worse is to have your cat come in clawed up by one. A feral cat can be carrying disease that’s harmful to pets, too. Platte County has a lot of green space near developed or developing residential areas. The woods we enjoy on hillsides and stream ways provide scenery and recreation. Plus much of the county is semi-rural in nature.
But natural areas also become haven for feral cats. It is more common to have a feral cat living in the greenery near my home than it is not to have one. I’ve also seen them running when I was hunting in fields and woodlands.
They’re a problem. Encouraging the release of trapped feral cats does nothing to solve the problem. People are part of the problem.
Many feral cats arrive in a rural area or on a backstreet woodlot because someone has dumped them. Ditto of course with dogs. The person dumping the animal either doesn’t care about the critter or hopes by magic someone is going to assume the veterinary and food bill for it.
A person who takes a cat or dog to the country and dumps it on other folks in a neighborhood deserves serious jail time. They are cruel to the animal and thoughtless about people. Taxpayers may bear the costs of solving the problem.
Feral cats can also have litters, too, of course. Their life is not easy. The ones I’ve seen roaming are often beat up and weak.
When feral cats have been identified by citizens as a problem in a neighborhood and brought to the attention of officials, the problem should be removed.
We don’t let beef cattle, hogs or horses run free through neighborhoods. Feral cats may tread with a lighter footprint, but they do become a nuisance.
Feral cats are also destructive to native wildlife. They prey on birds and other creatures in the food chain utilized by native wildlife. They are not native wildlife just because they become feral.
I don’t envy elected officials who must make decisions that involve emotions about animals, but I hope when this issue occurs, they make the most humane and efficient choice to remove feral cats.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.