October 13th, 2015 · Carole M. · Staff Recommendations
After a long day spent fulfilling responsibilities, after the stresses of commuting, perhaps needing to prove yourself at work, perhaps feeing underappreciated, what is better to come home to than a non-judgmental, lovable, innocent, needy-in-a-good way, non-human that we choose to share our homes with. Our cats and dogs, along with assorted other creatures, quickly become part of our families. The emotional benefits of pet owner ship have been proven. For those spending a lot of time at home, the companionship they offer is undeniable and priceless. The dimension they add to our lives is unique and transcendent.
There is no doubt that we love our pets. We want them to be healthy and comfortable. TV commercials touting the best foods for our pets abound. Working dog owners have the option of sending their beloved to day care for the socialization and fun they are lacking throughout the work day. We spend a lot on our pets. According to the American Pet Products Association these are the estimations of sales of pet products in the U.S. for this year.
For 2015, it estimated that $60.59 billion will be spent on our pets in the U.S.
Food $23.04 billion
Supplies/OTC Medicine $14.39 billion
Vet Care $15.73 billion
Live animal purchases $2.19 billion
Pet Services: grooming & boarding $5.24 billion
As revealed in a Forbes Magazine article, the United States is certainly not the only pet-driven culture. Figures combining Asia, Australia and New Zealand, where pets outnumber people, aggregate pet population now exceeds 488 million. The Southeast Asia pet care market alone is estimated at US$ 952 million in 2014 and expected to reach 1,412.7 million by 2020.
A relatively new phenomena and testament to the universal appeal of pets is the proliferation of pet videos, both humorous and heartwarming, populating the internet. In response to the popularity of cat videos, the Internet Cat Video Festival, begun in 2012, is a national competition that celebrates cat videos on the internet. Many of these festivals include appearances by special guests and celebricats (such as Grumpy Cat and the creator of Nyan Cat), live music, costume contests, art projects, and booths hosting local animal resource nonprofits.
What makes an animal a pet? What turns a stray dog roaming the streets of any city into our best friend? What is the difference between a cat we see rummaging in garbage cans and the charming entertaining cat on those videos? The difference between an antisocial cat or dog is its contact and relationship with humans; the homes we provide, the food we dish out, the love we bestow.
The reality is that not every animal will have a home. Not every animal will be loved and cared for. The random nature of animal rescue is undeniable. Which kitty catches our eye? Which mutt warms our heart? Which animals get to remain in shelters? Which get to come into our homes?
Acknowledging this arbitrary and subjective element is an important step in understanding and changing our perception of homeless animals.
October 16 is National Feral Cat Day. http://nationalferalcatday.org/; #feralcatday.
Begun as a means of calling attention to the plight of strays and ferals, how they can be helped and how they can be a part of the community they live in, the movement has grown to include events and services nationwide for this cat population.
Alley Cat Allies- http://www.alleycat.org is an organization dedicated to protecting and building awareness of cats. They remind us that feral cats have a home – outdoors! And although they appreciate a can of cat food, they don’t want to snuggle with you on your couch. The best approach and remedy for managing a stray cat population is TNR- Trap, Neuter, Return which controls the colony and enhances the quality of life for its cats.
Alley Cat Allies offers much information and assistance for those interested and willing to undertake this rewarding path. Alternatively, if you know of or notice a stray cat population in your area consider reaching out to a local organization for assistance with TNR
www.newrochellehumanesociety.org phone: 914 632-2925
www.spca914.org phone: 914 941 2894
Additional facts about feral cats, culled from the Alley Cat Allies website are:
Outdoor cats have existed alongside humans for 10,000 years.
They are not a new phenomenon. Feral and stray cats live and thrive in every landscape, from the inner city to rural farmland.
Feral cats are not socialized to people.
However, as members of the domestic cat species (just like pet cats), they are protected under state anti-cruelty laws.
Feral cats should not be taken to pounds and shelters.
Feral cats’ needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system, where animals that are not adoptable are killed. Feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors—but are killed in shelters. Even no-kill shelters can’t place feral cats in homes.
Feral kittens can be adopted.
Feral kittens can often be adopted into homes, but they must be socialized at an early age. There is a crucial window, and if they aren’t handled in time, they will remain feral and therefore unadoptable.
Feral cats live healthy lives in their outdoor homes.
Feral cats are just as healthy as pet cats—with equally low rates of disease. They have the same lifespans, too.
Catch and kill doesn’t work.
Animal control’s traditional approach for feral cats— catching and killing—is endless and cruel. Cats choose to reside in locations for two reasons: there is a food source (intended or not) and shelter. When cats are removed from a location, new cats move in or survivors breed to capacity. This vacuum-effect is well-documented.
Trap-Neuter-Return does work.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) benefits the cats and the community. Cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat), and then returned to their outdoor home. The colony’s population stabilizes—no more kittens! Trap- Neuter-Return improves their lives and improves their relations with the community—the behaviors and stresses associated with mating stop. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane, effective approach for feral cats.
Below is a sampling of the countless books written by passionate pet people. Check them out at The Harrison Public Library.