Feral Right To Life?

Yesterday morning, while I was sitting at my desk, I heard a meow at the front door.

Squirt had stopped by to say hello. We had a little chat, then he curled up on the doormat and hung out for a while.

I’ve read that ferals don’t tend to be vocal. You couldn’t prove it by Squirt. I envision him strolling around the neighborhood, carrying on a running commentary with himself.

Nose alone is left of the last batch of kittens. He’s usually to be found in my back yard. Patches and BB are almost always here for breakfast, but they’re currently dividing their time between my yard and the yard next door.

Bad Ass, of course, is still around. I just walked outdoors and found him snoozing in the sun.

As for the indoor cats, Mo’s eye infection is gone and Andy has recovered from what one of my friends calls the ‘kitty flu’. He goes back to the vet next week to have a loose tooth pulled.

During our last vet experience, while sitting in the waiting room, I leafed through a copy of The Pet Press and came across an irate letter to the editor. It had been written in response to someone who had commented positively about local Trap And Release programs.

The letter was about as negative as possible.

It seems that under the law, no non-human animals have a right to life. There is apparently an ongoing debate between those who think it’s just dandy to kill feral cats and those who don’t.

The former say that ferals are a nuisance and a danger to the environment and that human intervention – i.e. feeding them – creates a grossly imbalanced state of affairs. The latter feel that ferals have a right to be left alone to live their lives.

Mention made was made in the letter of ‘caterwauling and noisy fighting in the middle of the night’ being ‘a severe detriment to the public’s peace and quiet’.

The writer of this letter lives in the Los Angeles area. So do I, and helicopters hovering overhead are considerably more annoying than a ‘caterwauling’ cat. The cat – in my case, usually Bad Ass — stops caterwauling if I yell at it. The helicopter doesn’t similarly go away. Nor does the singularly untalented teen-aged drummer next door.

The letter-writer argued that feral cats kill birds and other critters, foul yards, etc., etc., etc., and therefore should be hauled off and euthanized.

Well. At my house, we feed birds as well as cats – rather, I feed the cats and my husband feeds the birds. There is a huge saucer-type feeder hanging on a chain from the olive tree. Periodically one of the ferals will get on the back of a chair and take a great leap, trying to catch the birds perched on the saucer. They have yet to succeed.

When the cats aren’t eating their dry food, the birds are. I haven’t found any little bird carcasses by the food dishes, either.

Although there may occasionally be a stray feather wafting about the yard.

We seem to have some strange wild critter balance going here. Once the cats and birds have gone wherever it is they go after they’ve done eating, the raccoon comes out.

It is a very large, very ballsy raccoon. All of us are wise enough to give it a wide berth. I’ve tried talking to it through the security door. (My, what a handsome big fellow you are.) It just glares at me. (Piss off, idiot human female, so I can go back to stuffing my face.)

I think I’ll name him Rocky. Although it might be a her. There’s no way I’m going to get close enough to find out.

As far as digging up my flower beds, the ferals don’t, though one of my neighbor’s hibiscus bushes has suffered considerably from serving as a scratching post. And any damage the cats might do is hugely outweighed by the pleasure I get from looking out the window to see Patches in the olive tree, or Nose draped across the hood of the fire pit, or one of them swinging in the bird feeder and pretending he’d meant to do that all along.

I know that ferals are supposed to prolifically procreate. Two cats can in two years can produce an astonishing number of offspring. All I can say is, not in my back yard. Fixed or not (and yes, I agree they definitely should be fixed), fed and watered and given a safe place to live, ferals around here have a real low survival rate.

In conclusion, the letter-writer argued that the rights of those folks who care for ferals ended at her (or his) property line.

Ok, maybe that’s fair. I’m a property owner myself. I dislike it intensely when one of the neighborhood dogs takes a dump in my front yard.

However, I’m not going to get out my shotgun and shoot the wretched thing.

Or its owner.

Or the helicopter pilot.

Or the drummer next door.

In my opinion, anything that manages to get born has the right to live, whether it’s convenient for me and my property or not.

It’s good that I live in a feral-tolerant neighborhood.

Otherwise, I might have to move.

Published in: on September 5, 2008 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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