Letter to the Editor: Feral, stray cat problem becoming worse in Del.

It seems we have a serious cat problem in the state of Delaware.

On Oct. 23, 2013, a story stated that Harrington had an estimated 600 feral and stray cats in town. The paper also said the trap, neuter, release program (TNR) and other organizations manage to process about 380 felines of the estimated 600 living in town. The TNR program was hoping to decrease the cat population.

However, in 2018, it seems like the cat population is worse. The cats have branched out and now expand beyond Harrington’s city limits. I for one, have seen a numerous amount of free roaming cats in my backyard, and I live two miles outside of the Harrington city limits. It upsets me at seeing these free roaming cats in my yard waiting to attack and kill something.

In 2013 I sent a letter to the editor of Delaware State News regarding this cat problem. They printed my letter Nov. 9, 2013, entitled, “Releasing cats could prove dangerous.” I believe my letter was totally ignored and that we have a bigger cat problem today.

Recently on a cable news channel they mentioned that Lewes is overrun with free roaming cats. A lady picked up one of these cats and it bit her. It was found out that this cat had rabies. All these free roaming cats are not only decimating our local wildlife, but have also become hazardous to humans.

Free roaming? If a dog is free to roam it is apprehended. If a fox, raccoon etc., is seen to be acting strangely and it is sick, it is apprehended and subjected to euthanasia for reasons of mercy and safety to humans. Shouldn’t the same apply to sicken rabid free roaming cats? Cats are a health risk to our local wildlife, humans, cat owners and family pets.

Cats become victims of many diseases, not only rabies but ringworm and toxoplasmosis, all of which are transmitted to humans and other animals. I think it’s cruel to do TNR on these cats and release them into our environment. This is not their natural habitat. In fact, free roaming cats have a shortened life span.

Our local wildlife and we are in danger from these free roaming cats. Our local wildlife is having a hard enough time surviving due to a variety of causes, which are many. In a 1996 issue of Outdoor Delaware, they said studies show that free roaming felines may be killing millions of birds and small animals every year, because cats kill even if they are not hungry.

Another study indicated that free roaming cats are able to catch and kill between 100 and 1,000 prey animals a year per cat. This was a study done in 1996, I wonder what the study would reveal today?

One of the small mammals killed by free roaming cats are bats. In my October-November 2018 issue of National Wildlife, Page 12, they state that cat attacks are one of the most common cause of bat mortality. Bats are really our friends and are very important to the environment, in that most are insect eaters while others are pollinators.

The 1996 Outdoor Delaware magazine asked how big a problem can a few cats be? Big enough to cause concern about declining bird and mammal populations. I am a certified backyard wildlife habitat member with the National Wildlife Federation. My hope is to try and preserve what wildlife I can, for myself, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren before everything becomes endangered or extinct.

I am not only concerned about our local wildlife. I’m sick of seeing these abandoned free roaming cats danger or worse, splattered all over our roads and highways from being run over by the increasing flow of traffic of cars and trucks.

Cat owners need to be accountable for their cats. So, if you love wildlife and you love your cats, please have your cat spayed or neutered and most of all keep your cats indoors. For other cat lovers, stop releasing cats into our environment.

Gloria Meredith

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