Our February article described the huge losses that cats inflict on wild birds in California and around the country. Recognizing this as an important conservation problem, YAS explored the issue further. We talked to key people at the County animal shelter in Woodland, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the Yolo County SPCA, and the City of Davis, among others.
Two lessons were reinforced. First, don’t abandon your unwanted cat. Contact the local SPCA (through its website) for advice on finding a new owner. If that doesn’t work, take the cat to the County animal shelter, where it will be kept safe. If you catch a feral cat, the shelter will neuter it for free, if you make an appointment to do so. You must return such cats to where you found them.
Second, don’t feed cats that you don’t own, unless you are sure they have been neutered. Otherwise, feeding them simply helps them have more kittens. Nationwide, this results in a great many more unwanted kittens, because roughly one in seven people feed feral cats.
For those one in seven, the website of the Shelter Medicine Program at the UC Davis vet school has several suggestions for ensuring that you feed only the cats you have identified as needing care. You can read about those suggestions here.
YAS would like to get these lessons to a wider audience. We are looking into working with organizations that teach school children about nature and science, including Explorit Science Center, Yolo Basin Foundation, and the educational partnership for Woodland Regional Park. Topics about birds and cats could be part of a curriculum for impressionable minds. If you are interested, please let me know.
In closing, note that stray cats are a result of our consumer culture, one that urges us to throw away the things we no longer want. It is no surprise that Yolo County birders find feral cats and discarded furniture on the same roadsides.
Michael Perrone, Conservation Chair, YAS