CatGroup

Have you ever wondered what life is like for homeless pets in other countries? Life can be very challenging for these animals wherever they are found.  Hardships include harsh climates, predators, and varying cultural beliefs about their welfare and status.  However, people all around the world with deep compassion for stray animals are working hard to make life more comfortable for these brave creatures.

For example, while recently vacationing in Peru, one of our veterinarians noticed something unusual in the John F. Kennedy city park in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood. Entering the park’s beautiful, well-tended gardens she noted several cats relaxing in a tree. Walking through the park, it turned out there were cats everywhere! Nearly 40 stray cats appeared to be living there quite comfortably. Beautiful flower beds concealed entire families of sleeping cats. Cats climbed the trees and lounged on sunny park benches.

The tourists and local residents were very respectful of the cats, taking pains not to disturb the sleeping ones and only petting cats that approached them. Everyone leashed their dogs. For stray cats they appeared remarkably well fed and healthy.  Containers of fresh water were well placed in a few discreet spots. That evening, the mystery of why these cats preferred this particular spot was solved: An elderly Peruvian gentleman was seen entering the park with a large bag of dry cat food. He replenished the water bowls and left plenty of food. The cats seemed to know and like him.

Stray cats are lost or abandoned house pets that can usually be re-homed. Feral cats, on the other hand, have been born outside and are usually uncomfortable with human contact. Feral kittens, if rescued at a young enough age, can be socialized to humans and adopted as indoor pets.

Feral cat populations around the world face many problems, including untreated and painful illnesses, starvation and thirst, overpopulation and predation by wild animals or dogs.  In some areas they have been responsible for depletion of birds and small mammal populations.  Adoptions of friendly strays and ferals, trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs, and spaying/neutering family pets all help to reduce feline suffering.

Today in the U.S., TNR is gaining wide acceptance as the most effective and humane method for controlling outdoor feral cat colonies. Basically, TNR consists of humanely trapping adult ferals, spaying/neutering and vaccinating them, and returning them to their familiar outside surroundings where caregivers provide fresh food and water daily. Trap-neuter-release results in healthier cats and stabilizes the feral population. For more information on TNR visit Alley Cat Allies at http://www.alleycat.org/

It will take much time and effort on the part of private citizens and animal welfare groups to address the important issue of feral and stray cats.  In the meantime, it is comforting to know that there are people the world over who care about these unique felines.

For more information on TNR and feral/stray cat adoption in Connecticut please visit:

www.adoptapet.org

http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/ct393/html

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