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What San Juan needs

December 13th, 2012

is a Pied Piper. Not for rats, but for cats.

Now, for those of you who are great supporters of PETA, the SPCA and other animal rights organizations – stop reading right here. You are not going to be happy with the rest of the post.

This is Puerto Rico. There are still crippled beggars and children in poverty. For whatever reason, there is a large group which has devoted itself to the care and feeding of a huge population of feral cats. These cats are plump and lazing all along the coastal walk to El Morro. In the short distance I covered I counted more than 50. Happen to over hear a woman excitedly talking about the group which was feeding, sheltering and attempting to “fix” the strays.

I looked back at the cats. All the females I saw were either pregnant or nursing.

Population control? I don’t think so. It took me back to the rather nasty discussion we had in Kabul between the bleeding heart liberals of ISAF who wanted to run a similar program for the feral dogs. On the other side were those of us who looked at 100,000 dogs knowing there was no way to keep up with flood; and those ER docs who were dealing with the aftermath of the daily maulings provided by those self same dogs to children scrounging in garbage cans for a chance to fill their bellies.

Sorry, but I firmly believe that the needs of children come before those of animals. If someone wants to adopt – take an animal home and be responsible – fine. But pouring money into feral animals when children are at risk? I don’t think so.

So here I am in San Juan. There are no guns, IEDs or terrorists lurking around every corner. Instead there are overfed tourists coming off the cruise ships and acting like taking care of all these cats so that they can continue to reproduce is a good thing.

Feeding the cats is wrong. Good nutrition leads to more breeding, larger litters and better survival of the kits. It doesn’t lead to rat, mouse or other rodent control. It doesn’t do anything for the ragged sleeping on park benches or hidden in back door ways.

So here I sit in a quandary. I don’t get a vote here. But I think of Germany and all the no kill shelters. Who are we kidding? Does it make all of us feel better to know that a sick, mean, or unwanted animal will spend the rest of its life in a cage, pen, kennel rather than be put down?

Meanwhile, we have to deal with the aftermath of war. Injured and ill people are much harder. We don’t care to look at either population. So instead we have well fed cats.

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  1. December 13th, 2012 at 22:08 | #1

    There is another point to consider, too. Outside domestic cats are a large part of the reason for the steep decline in songbird populations. The Bewick’s wren, one of my favorites, a tiny, friendly bird with a huge voice and vocal repertoire, likes to nest close to the ground and close to human habitation and so is now essentially extinct on the East Coast, with fewer than a dozen individuals found from Maine to Florida at a bird count a year or two ago. The only healthy population left is a pocket of them in northern California, whereas they used to be spread across the 48 states. Cats have been blamed by biologists for much of the loss.

    • December 16th, 2012 at 21:03 | #2

      Also the increase in toxoplasmosis, but we won’t go there either. Considering the sturdiness of seagulls – I don’t think they are at risk from cats – either domestic or feral. And the place was certainly over run with pigeons (feathered flying rats).

      Outside overfed cats are not a kindness to either that animal or any in their surroundings….

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