In response to the Nov. 17 letter Critics offer no solution to cat problem:
Town of Massena Supervisor Joseph D. Gray does not understand the feral cat issue. How would his plan to not feed feral cats pan out?
Some feral cats succumb to starvation, exposure, injury or disease. Meanwhile, the feral cat populations that exist without any human aid continue to over-reproduce. These cats will fill the open niche and the overall population density remains unchanged. Starving cats does not work.
What about euthanasia programs? Three to 4 million shelter cats are euthanized each year. To be effective, feral euthanasia programs require a continuous effort to trap and euthanize feral cats. The number of euthanized cats required to decrease the population growth would be on a genocidal scale. Killing cats does not work.
Mr. Gray considered the sterilization of feral cats to be misguided and foolhardy. What is the reality with trap/neuter/vaccinate/release programs?
TNVR programs can bring the population under control. TNVR cats with rudimentary aid have increased survivability from an average of 1 to 3 years to up to an average of 10 years. These cats hold the niche from unhealthy and reproducing cats. This gives time to continue the process to sterilize the surrounding populations and the existing population will degrade by attrition.
Mr. Gray is misguided to think that there is a quick or inexpensive fix, and he wants no public money to be spent on feral cats. Apparently, Mr. Gray is not as financially particular with the town of Massena giving over $50,000 annually to the Massena Humane Society with only a fraction being dedicated to required dog control rather than animal and population control. Shelters are dealing with the products of the feral population with public money in one way or another.
Sterilizing cats works. It is not short-term, small-scale or inexpensive, but it is the most effective solution to this issue. Bringing the overpopulation under control will require the long-term, large-scale cooperation of municipalities, law enforcement, veterinarians, animal organizations, nonprofits, citizens and communities.
Over the past two years the nonprofit Spay/Neuter/Now mobile clinic has sterilized 1,921 cats (91 from Massena residents). The mobile clinic is open to low-income owned cats as well as barn, colony, stray and feral cats after an application process.
I urge anyone interested, especially the town of Massena, to contact Spay/Neuter/Now to discuss ways that we can all work together to reduce the pet overpopulation in Northern New York.
Kevin T. Mace
The writer is president of Spay/Neuter/Now, Ltd.