Friday, September 24, 2010

Family, pets, and feral populations

In Russia there are dogs that have figured out how to use the subway system to travel to locations with better food. From what I can tell, most Russians aren't particularly bothered. The article there calls them stray, but I've seen them also referred to as feral dogs the way that we refer to feral cats in the US.

In the US, 30% of Americans consider pets family but Trap, Neuter Return (TNR) groups, such as Alley Cat Allies, always have a tough sell convincing people not to just poison feral cat colonies.

I feel like these are related somehow but I'm not sure. Maybe because so many Americans do have a familial relationship with their pets, it's more difficult for us to accept feral cat colonies?  I don't have an answer yet but I want to explore and find one.

In England, it's considered best for cats to be outdoor animals or at least only confined inside at night. In the US we build giant catios (patios for cats) to keep our kitties entertained while also safe and secure, as we point to figures showing that indoor cats live significantly longer. We round up strays and bring them to shelters and seem certain that this is the way to handle things.

In Italy, we saw a ton of freely roaming dogs and cats. The winery where we stayed fed and cared for a dog and a cat that had shown up in the past and hung around, but they weren't allowed inside the buildings because that would be considered dirty.

I do volunteer at an open access shelter and my gut reaction is that it's better not to let strays wander all over the city. I also support TNR and not taking feral cats into a shelter where they will likely end up euthanized or miserable. In the southern US, a far smaller percentage of pets are fixed than in the northeastern US. I want to know why.

Yes, part of me wants to know why the differences are there because I think that trying to change people's behavior (i.e. get more people to spay/neuter) without first understanding the reason for that behavior is doomed to failure. A large part of it is simply a desire to know more and explore.

A cat-like curiosity if you will.

1 comment:

HubbleSpacePaws said...

Hi hon! Read your post back in Sept. but it was sooo busy I didn't pause to comment! Hope things are going well. Come to any conclusions or are you still figurin'?