Who’s Your Daddy

I’m nowhere near finished refurbishing the garden shed for Dora and Oscar. It still has to be insulated and the wiring needs to be run out there so that I can set up a ‘brooder’ lamp to keep them snug and warm this winter. But at the moment, it does have a fairly raccoon proof entry hatch for the kitties.
Raccoon proof yes … kitty proof no. I’m sure I don’t see all the ‘traffic’ but the garden shed is close enough to the house that I catch a glimpse of the odd ‘tourist’ Some, I am sure, are the neighbour’s cats. This is a popular enough ‘dumping’ area that there is a substrata of feral ‘ninjas’ who may be stopping by. Two doors ‘up the hill’ one of my neighbours is reputed to be feeding strays and some may occasionally pop in here for a snack. We’re country out here, so there could even be some barn cats out on tour.
There is only one fairly consistent visitor …. a battered old tom that I have named Chuck ( he is as battered as Chuck Norris after years of action movies) and if I can ever get my paws on him, I’ll get him into be neutered and tested and vaccinated. Even if he’s just a tourist, he’ll have a better life that way.
Whoever and whatever, its not a lot of ‘heavy traffic’. Although Dora is quite friendly to me, she is already growing into a protective sense of her turf. When she is all grown, I expect she will be as territorial about ‘her’ yard as Kitty Bear was for all the years until she consented to ‘retire’ to being an indoor kitty.
Dora and Oscar are definitely my cats. No matter who else might be stopping by for ‘snacks’, I make sure they have clean dishes of food and clean water every day. I had them tested and vaccinated and had Dora spayed. If Oscar hadn’t already been neutered when he showed up, I would have ‘fixed’ him too.
Just like the ‘house’ pets. By my definition …. if I have vaccinated and fixed them … they are my pets. If I care for them … they are my pets. In other words, if I assume responsibility for them … they are my pets.
So what about the ‘tourists’? Should I begrudge them a snack on their way? They’re not ‘regulars’ …. but they are living breathing sentient beings in what is sometimes a very hard old world for cats.
Is the neighbour who is feeding the strays doing the right thing? IMHO, nobody should let a cat starve. What is needed are better resources for getting these cats fixed.
In most areas, once one begins feeding the cats, both animal control and the society have a “feed me, I’m your’s” policy that precludes any spay neuter assistance. Even with the assistance, the reality is that if getting a few cats ‘fixed’ is utterly out of someone’s budget, a twenty five or fifty dollar discount isn’t going to make the fix achievable.
There was a Town Hall last saturday, but in all honesty, I’m not prepared to leave McG for what would have constituted a fairly long stretch with the travelling time. The event was an unprecedented first step, but I expect it was more about trying to convince folks of the merit of setting up TNR and low cost spay neuter programs in their areas than in setting up immediate solutions.
Even the pursuit of solutions takes time. Here in Kings County, the local SPCA branch is engaged in a promising discussion with the county about funding for TNR. They already have a list of the most urgent locations and the expertise of local TNR experts available. But here in the real world, it takes time to jump the hurdles to work anything new into government budgets at any level.
I know I go on and on about living in a popular dumping area, but it really does give one a ‘front row seat’ on the Wheel of the homeless kitty Year. Some of the ‘free kittens’ on Kijiji right now will be pregnant by fall and will be dumped out in areas like this around NS. The little mothers that survive that …. and having their kittens in the rough …. blend into the ‘ninja’ feral community that finds its only safety in keeping out of the harmful reach of man.
Out here, usually the only cats we actually see are the adult optimists, like Oscar, who are hoping to find someone to take them in. Honestly, if he wasn’t so devoted to Dora, I think he’d be happy to join the indoor ‘gang’ here. The flip side of that is that if Dora wasn’t so devoted to Oscar, I expect she never would have warmed up to me the way she has. Without that, I would still be trying to get my paws on her … and very likely her first litter of kittens too.
Even so, after a bit all the folks who are willing to assume responsibility for a stray pretty much ‘fill up’ and see no reason why they should be expected to take care of the pets that someone else so carelessly threw away.
But I’m wandering afield here. The point is that for responsible pet owners, there is no problem in understanding the need to spay and neuter. The problem is finding someone to pony up for the strays and the ferals who aren’t ‘somebody’s kitties’. Studies have shown that even people who regularly feed strays do not regard them as being their responsibility.
Why? Because of course it costs money to fix the cats. Money may not be the root of all evil, but without it there will be no ‘fix’
What time is it? Its time to recognize that any meaningful solution has to include a program for testing and fixing the strays so that someone will be willing to assume responsibility for their care.

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