Hissy Fit Jones here. I’m the go-to guy for all things stray and feral.
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous contacted Rumpy this week. He spoke of a neighbor who has several outdoor cats. The neighbor feeds the cats, but that’s about it.
The reader said he recently noticed one of the cats was injured, and he mentioned it to the neighbor. The neighbor said the cat was fine. The reader decided to take the cat to the vet and get it fixed up.
This led us to a discussion of what are the ethical implications for caring for outside cats.
If the animals are strays and you feed them, does that make them yours? Or are you just providing a handout?
If they keep coming back, what types of care should you be expected to provide for these animals?
And if you’re in a position like our reader, what should you do?
I can speak from our own recent experience with mama and her babies. Mama came here looking for some help to feed her kittens. We tried to find a rescue to take the kittens, but had no luck. We agonized over what was the best thing to do, and what could we live with. Jen decided to have mama spayed. But when taken in, mama tested positive for FeLV. The vet strongly recommended that she be euthanized and the kittens surrendered. It was difficult, but that’s what we did. And I haven’t told you all this before now because the whole experience has been upsetting.
It’s my position that if you’re going to feed them more than once, you’ve made a commitment. As such, you should take reasonable steps to provide care. That means spay/neuter, vaccinations, and medical care. And if you can’t afford to provide needed medical care, then you should attempt to rehome the animal, surrender the animal to animal control, or have your vet euthanize the animal.
I also believe that if you have a neighbor who is not being a responsible pet owner, it is your responsibility to discuss your concerns with animal control. It may be the owner needs to be educated, or it may be the pet owner is neglectful and there needs to be intervention for the well-being of those animals.
That’s not an easy one, and to be honest, most of us won’t do that because animal control services has been made out to be such a bogeyman. But if animals are sick or injured and are not being properly cared for, I think it’s the right thing to do.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. What do you think is the right thing to do here?