This time it is about Stray CATS: Israel Will Trap, Neuter & Return 45,000 Street Cats

Israel Will Trap, Neuter and Return 45,000 Street  Cats

Israel Will Trap, Neuter and Return 45,000 Street Cats

Street cats are everywhere in Israel, in huge numbers. I  and others can attest that they don’t look  good: they tend to be dirty and skinny, often with visible skin infections and  eye problems. Their lifespans average just one or two years, compared to 13-17 years for cats who live indoors  or in managed colonies.

Most of the cats’ human neighbors have historically considered them vermin  and wanted them gone. People have yelled at me for feeding cats near their  apartments or houses. One Israeli veterinarian says, “in Israel it’s as  though no one cares. There is no awareness here.” Even cat lovers lack basic  awareness about solutions to the enormous street cat population. A spokesperson for the Israeli chapter of the  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said, “the public is at  fault…because people are not spaying/neutering their pets.”

Israelis resist neutering male companion animals in  particular, just as Americans have and still do — witness the commercial success  of Neuticles, artificial testicles that can be implanted to  make a neutered cat appear intact. The manufacturer promotes Neuticles as a way  to aid “the pet’s owner with the trauma associated with altering.” I’m trying to  make sense of that. Maybe the trauma and resistance result from men projecting  their own fears of castration or insecurities about their masculinity onto their  cats. Whatever their problem is, these people are not acting in their cats’  interests. Neutering can preserve their health and, by reducing their aggression,  lower the risk of injury from violent fights.

The outlook for street cats in Israel is improving thanks to changing  attitudes. The Israeli government just committed 4.5 million NIS (about 1.27 million in U.S.  dollars) to trap, spay or neuter, and release 45,000 feral cats before June  2014. There are an estimated 39,000 street cats in the Tel Aviv area alone —  just one shelter, the SPCA, takes in 200 kittens every day during breeding season — so  the government’s plan is not a comprehensive solution.

Nonetheless, it is a huge step forward. TNR is the only viable option to  improve Israeli street cats’ quality of life. The country has few animal shelters, so rounding up  neighborhood cats and dropping them off at a shelter doesn’t work — they will  either be turned away or killed. Adopting feral cats, excluding young kittens,  rarely succeeds because they have learned to fear humans and usually can’t  change their ways. When I found an apparently orphaned kitten on the street a  few years ago, days before I was scheduled to return to the United States, I  called every person, organization and governmental agency I could think of  looking for someone to take him in. None of them could help. (Eventually I found  the little guy’s mother and reunited the family.)

The government’s cash infusion could not only save cats’ lives; it could also  improve their health. When feral cats are spayed or neutered and then returned  to a colony that has conscientious human managers, they can stay quite healthy. Good colony managers keep  the fixed cats fed, provide places to sleep that protect them from the elements, monitor  their health and trap new arrivals for spaying or neutering.

Israeli animal advocates, like CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals in  Israel), emphasize that TNR efforts will not make a difference without excellent  colony managers. Others argue that TNR will increase the street cat population,  based on a study by a student at Tel Aviv  University.

The United States is full of individuals and organizations, like  hospitals, universities, airports and military bases, that reject  TNR and instead kill feral cats on their property. The fact that Israel is  embracing TNR on a national level could eventually put it far ahead of the  United States in terms of treating ferals humanely.

It could also mean that the next time I visit the country and go for a walk,  I won’t have to carry cat treats with me because I won’t pass hungry ferals on  my way. TNR could improve not just cats’ quality of life, but mine  too.

Read more:

One thought on “This time it is about Stray CATS: Israel Will Trap, Neuter & Return 45,000 Street Cats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s