Feral Cats: The CATastrophe

Cats+at+Broward+County+Animal+Care+and+Adoption+Center+wait+for+their+possible+adoption

Breanna Fuller

Cats at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center wait for their possible adoption

Deborah Cayemitte, Coordinator

Feral cats, cats that are “wild” in neighborhoods, have always been an issue. They congregate in public areas, are seen as a nuisance, are blamed for killing local bird populations and are often run over by traffic, their skeletal bodies splattered over the asphalt like gruesome stuffed animals. “People can be malicious,” said SBHS cat lover, Ms. Cheryl Wood.

Wood adopted three cats from previous students to give them a home. “All over my neighborhood, I spot stray cats, who constantly get involved in a hit and run accidents,” South Broward high school sophomore Kierrah Themene said.

“I see starving, injured, or baby kittens roaming around the area, which I wish I could save.”

 “Instead of abusing cats, people need to find something else to do”, said Wood. Over the years, the amount of cats living on the street has tripled. According to the Animal Legal and Historical Center, the number of feral cats in Florida is estimated to be nine million being feral cats.

Darlene Feldman is a specialist in Human Education at the Humane Society. Her job is to educate the community about animals, and how we can help them. Many times, cats lose their home because owners have lost their homes as well. 

Some of the cats that you see out in the streets are out there because their owners became homeless and couldn’t take care of them,” said Feldman. 

According to the street cat advocacy organization AlleyCatAllies, the number one documented cause of death for cats in animal shelters is euthanasia, with 72% of all cats entering these facilities being put to death. Just twenty-three percent are adopted, and only two percent find their owners. 

Because female cats can give birth to a litter in two months with an average of five kittens, unspayed feral cats can cause big problems. That’s where Darlene Feldman comes in. 

Sometimes, people take matters into their own hands. According to the Broward Palm Beach newspaper, some people kill feral cats by mixing in Tylenol into their cat food. “Instead of abusing cats, people need to find something else to do,” said Wood         

Animal shelters across Broward County are practicing the trap neuter and release technique (TNR). The TNR technique allows all forms of feral cats to become “fixed”, and released back into the wild. By using this technique, the feline feral population size can be reduced. 

“Hollywood, Florida, has the most significant number of feral cats in Florida, ” said Feldman. 

Over three years ago, the Humane Society of Broward County worked with the city of Hollywood to help over 6,700 feral cats get adopted and spayed. This past winter, the Humane Society alone helped four hundred and eighty-four cats get adopted.

Without these types of programs, the feral cat population would continue to grow, and cats would be subjected to inhuman lives and cruel deaths.

“Getting cats off the street won’t be easy,”  Feldman said, “But as a community, we in Broward County can make it better.”