I am of two minds on this issue
I understand that there are farm cats and that there can be an issue of cats being dumped on ‘farm homes’ and with reproduction getting out of hand in some locations. I also know some rescues offer colonies of altered cats to farm homes so some do think this is the best option for feral cats accustomed to wild living.
I have no problem with farmers killing sick or injured animals including dumped cats. One of the farms I know of feeds the cats, has no problem with the new ones that move in from time to time, but will kill any cats that are aggressive, ill or badly injured if they cannot be touched or approached to be helped. They want the cats able to be handled so they can get rabies shots – strictly to ensure they and their livestock are not exposed to rabies.
Some people say the outdoor or farm cats are all sick with fleas and intestinal parasites. Fleas and worms are actually a natural thing in animals. We humans don’t like to live with either but there is evidence that flea allergies in pets may be due to lack of exposure to fleas and that neither worm nor flea infections get out of hand in healthy animals in the wild – i.e. the flea ridden raccoon you might see is likely sick with something else too. Nature has a balance which we frequently disrupt.
With cats, as with other animals, if there is already a population in place, then new ones cannot and do not move into the territories successfully. So in the case of colonies of neutered vaccinated cats, the healthy alter population essentially keeps new ferals from moving in. Without queens to draw them for mating there is less chance of new cats moving in anyway though food, water and shelter can be a draw. In areas where TNR (trap neuter release) is done the evidence shows that the population stabilizes and the animals remain pretty healthy.
Yes baby animals and inexperienced animals get killed by cars and other animals. This happens to other ‘wildlife’ too. It is normal for a population of a species to get thinned down by a variety of things including foolish behaviors and it goes on every spring when new life arrives in the woods and fields. The smarter, or more cautious, or maybe even the luckier ones live. In my area we now have enough fishers and coyotes that feral, as well as pet cats, have to be pretty fast and smart to keep from being snacks, same as goes for any other wild resident. I do believe in natural selection and the cycle of life which makes it hard for me to feel the consumption of the cats is wrong – no matter how little I would like the cat involved to be one I know.
Having seen the way some animals are kept in ‘homes’ I am of two minds about whether a shorter life with possible death by car, wildlife or other means is preferable or not. There are reasons why so many landlords do not allow cats – smell and destruction of the rental property for example. Is a reeking litter box OK and better than the outdoors? Plus just look at all the obese cats sitting in windows wishing they were out – is that mental torture? Is completely stopping all natural behaviors a plus for cats? Look at how many cats are declawed for human convenience.
My cats are indoor cats due to the fact I prefer them alive instead of acting as lunch for the local wildlife, but I cannot be convinced that this is done totally for them, as there is a good possibility they are indoor pets completely due to my personal selfishness. Any time the windows are open the cats are right there wishing with all their might to explore their more natural world. We keep the cats in for us, not them.
Is a long, boring, unfulfilled life better than a short exciting one? I really can’t say. I can say my selfish desire to avoid loss leads to my cats being indoor pets only, same as it keeps my property fenced for the dogs’ safety. The presumption that any sort of life is better than death is a really huge one, and one I’m not sure I totally believe in. We just lost a 20 year old cat who was on fluids the last three years, plus he took thyroid meds. All that care was not, in my opinion, done for the cat, but for my husband who could not bear the thought of losing his old friend, though three extra years did not make the inevitable loss any easier.
Even though I do not choose an outdoor life for my cats that doesn’t mean it is not possible for cats to be healthy, content, and even long lived if they live outside or as in and outdoor cats. When I lived in the city my indoor/outdoor cats lived to be 16 despite all the hazards of dogs, cars, and kids in the neighborhood.
So when I say I am of two minds I mean it. There is the naturalist part of me who believes in the cycle of life, and in a natural as possible living style for the cats, that says this is the way of the world and it’s right and good for the species, and there is the emotional pet owner that says ‘nope not my pet’. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong point of view and the darn cats aren’t talking!
Administration note: The above was sent to us for publication.