To The Editor,
This is Ryan Handy and I want to thank you for covering the issue about the cat population and my chance to speak with the council in Hawkesbury. I think the article was great however there was a couple items that needed to be addressed.
1. While it is true feral cats can come from abandoned pets . . . it is usually subsequent generations later that these animals have been breeding and then become feral without having an owner provide for them initially.
2. These initial pets that are not sterilized are allowed to roam outside by their owners and natural outdoor activities become their regular behavioral routine. One mature female cat can produce two or three litters of offspring a year and those offspring can produce one or two litters within the first year of reaching maturity per viable female. This causes an exponential growth in the population if left unchecked.
3. Furthermore, another issue resulting from the overpopulation in the neighborhoods is that these animals often become abused. Abandonment because of issues from non-sterilization regarding behavior and damage to property are main reasons most pets are soon neglected.
4. Also: conflict between other residents regarding roaming pets can cause abuse/retaliation within the neighborhood from angry residents. There have been some incidences of animals being shot with a bow and arrow, some other animals have been physically injured (a speeding car maybe) or have been abandoned inside an apartment/ released outside without any previous skills for a feral lifestyle.
5. Sometimes residents attempt to offer support to animals outside by providing food and shelter. While this is great for helping animals that are abandon and not used to hunting for themselves or living outside it also encourages more activity around the area. the animals become familiar with this constant food source available and actually encourages more breeding activity. While programs for feeding stations and shelters provided for feral cats have some value in helping keep animals healthy it does also encourage colony behavior and increase opportunity for breeding. As the natural ebb and flow of nature dictates… the more food available in the environment correlates with the potential population capacity depending on that food source.
Besides that, everything else is great and I am really happy this issue is getting out there and having more exposure.
I don’t want people to have to pay any more money for their animals than needed but some kind of regulation to control abuse and abandonment is needed. Requesting sterilization of pets will help reduce unwanted breeding and behavioral problems.
People should be encouraged to consider adoption from rescues as most of these animals have been sterilized and generally given a clean bill of health after recovering from a rescue situation (and deserve a second chance for a good home). Furthermore adoption fees go back to the rescue to help pay for helping other animals or covering costs associated with the adoption of that animal.
It is disturbing about the current rate at which animals are being surrendered because people don’t want/know the full responsibility required for providing for different pet animals.
Thank you for your time and everything you do.
Ryan Handy, Hawkesbury