What does it mean to “believe”? Various dictionary definitions show it to mean “be confident about something” and “to hold something as true, correct and real”.
What is it that we “believe”? We, the advocates, caretakers, trappers, rescuers and supporters of cats - and community cats - believe they deserve to be treated as an equal to dogs in the world of animal sheltering and care. This would require an elevation of their status and a realistic and dedicated plan on how to help them. After decades of focus by the animal sheltering world on dogs and their plight, it’s time to develop a meaningful and humane plan to do the same for cats.
This would require a new way of thinking and viewing cats. It means that the current sheltering model that embraces managed (limited) intake must be replaced by something humane and sensible. Those advocating the closing of shelters’ doors to cats and the pressuring of shelters to advise people to find other resources for cats MUST STOP because it has only led to more cats being dumped on the streets. What is best for cats must become the new mantra instead of what will improve a shelter’s live release/save rate.
Community partnering must be re-defined to give a voice to non-shelter partners. Spay and neuter must become a top priority for cats as it was for dogs years ago. And it is time to stop blaming covid and veterinary shortages for the explosion of the number of unowned cats. This overpopulation issue was set in motion at least a decade earlier when the large national organizations and sheltering leaders began selling managed intake and capacity for care to shelters. It abandoned any hope of help for our cats.
Laws and ordinances must be redirected from feeding bans, prohibiting TNR, etc. to more humane positions that not only allow TNR, but support it. If your community doesn’t support TNR, its leaders just don’t understand the issue and need to be educated.
Community cat TNR people, rescuers, and feeders and caretakers face threats and attacks daily. Good citizens that are working their tails off (no pun intended) to get cats fixed, vaccinated and cared for are having their hard work attacked and destroyed. Feeding stations and shelters are thrown in the trash. They have the police or animal control called on them. People (keyboard warriors) slam them on social media. They are laughed at and called names. They are harassed. Yet these good, compassionate people continue onward. They stepped up daily to make a positive difference in their communities and in the lives of these forgotten cats.
Bird supporters want the cats gone because they kill birds (humans don’t?). Many more factors have been indicated in bird deaths than cats - toxins, planes, buildings, other animals, and on. TNR has been proven to humanely reduce cat populations. Yet the bird people constantly attack TNR. That makes no sense. Don’t they want fewer cats?
The point here is to look into the mirror. Are you helping to make the issue better or are you making the issue worse? Wouldn’t it be more helpful if we could all get on the same page?
So, despite the efforts of all of these people and groups to force cruel and unjust treatment on our cats, we persevere. Why? Because despite all of this, We Believe…Still!
Beth Frank is founder/president of Community Cats United, Inc, Fixfinder and Proactive Animal Sheltering. Beth has spent endless hours researching animal sheltering and analyzing shelter data from all over the US, including over 400 shelters. Click here to follow Proactive Animal Sheltering on Facebook.
Community Cats United, Inc. is a CommUNITY of over 99,000 including in all 50 US states and 127 countries.