Monday | September 26, 2016
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Letters 1-27-2013

Feral cats

Feline tragedies could have been prevented

When I was a little girl, I lived in a rural community in the South. And whenever our little female cat had new kittens, my brother and I would take them around to our neighbors in our red wagon until we had them all adopted out. Any “leftover” kittens, we simply kept. It was not to my parents’ liking to have the mother cat spayed, even though she had given birth to several litters.

On the Big Island, we have a very large feral cat population. If they make it through kittenhood, they are usually good at surviving.

People have mixed feelings about feral cats. Some think they are unwelcome pests, others feel they are victims of unfortunate circumstances.

Encountering a frightened, starving kitten trying desperately to survive in the wild is heartbreaking. It is obvious this little creature did not ask to be thrust into this situation. In fact, none of these cats that makes this island its home had a choice of whether to be here or not.

In nature, the strongest, fastest, smartest animals are the survivors. The weaker, slower ones fall alongside the way. This is called natural selection and strengthens future generations. It is a cold, hard fact.

But we want to help. A tiny gray, kitten crossed the alleyway slowly in front of me, hiding in a green hedge by the side of a little cafe.

When I got a closer look, I was shocked at the concave section that was where its stomach was supposed to be. It had obviously just left the litter and hadn’t eaten since the mother had nursed it.

It was afraid of me, but let me put down a small amount of cat food in front of it and it ate a few bites. It wouldn’t let me touch it, but I left some water under the hedge for it.

The next day, I came back fully equipped to rescue the kitten. When it finally showed up, it didn’t look good. It refused to eat and I saw the look in its little eyes; it was dying and nothing more could be done. I grieved for it and wondered what had become of its brothers and sisters.

This kind of tragedy could have been prevented.

There is a successful spay and neuter program in place in most communities. Feral cats are trapped, the surgery performed, and then they are released, unable to produce new litters that will suffer the horribly cruel fate of this baby.

Find out what is available in your area. And if you have a cat or dog, please consider the possibility of preventing unwanted births. In the long run, it is the merciful thing to do.

Dorothy Denny

Ocean View