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- Published on Friday, 27 July 2012 15:54
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Frequently Asked Questions
I saw a stray cat in my neighborhood. What should I do?
Dial 512-4884 and tell the PBIC Field Director of the sighting giving as complete a description as possible. Someone will respond to your call promptly.
What is a feral cat?
Feral cats are the offspring of domesticated cats that were abandoned without sterilization. They are not wildlife – they are not pets. Having never known the touch of human hands, the cats are neither social nor pets. They are free roaming cats that by nature cannot fend for themselves and if left unmanaged, they can become a public nuisance and will breed prolifically. Without human intervention, their lives are shortened by malnutrition, disease and trauma. Kitten mortality is high in the feral cat world, and left unchecked, the population growth will lead to an even higher rate of euthanasia at animal shelters. Further complicating matters is the fact that some of the cats on the streets are someone’s pet and others that are homeless - but not feral - and were abandoned by callous owners.
Are there many feral cats in Palm Beach?
When PBIC was selected to be the Town’s feral cat management program, a thorough census was conducted at every known colony using a stealth camcorder camera to photograph the cats. Because of the elusive nature of feral cats and because there may be colonies being cared for by residents that we do not know about, the following is an educated estimate. The known feral cat population is about 550 cats in Palm Beach.
How do I know if the cat is feral?
By nature, cats are hesitant about encountering humans, but the feral cat will run and hide while the pet will linger to determine if you are friend or foe. The Town has approved management of the feral cats in Palm Beach and much work has been accomplished, so look at the cat’s left ear to see if the ear has been tipped/cropped (the tip of the ear is removed). The nationally recognized industry standard of feral cat management is clipping the left ear for recognition of a cat in the management program and one that has been neutered.
Is “management” humane, safe and effective?
The answer is very much so, and management is the only way to control the population growth. Experienced and trained volunteers, under the direction of a professional Field Director, are implementing the only nationally recommended program of T-N-R (trap, neuter, return) and the only successful method to humanely reduce the homeless cat population and realize the goal of the program. Cats are trapped using a humane trap that employs a variable trigger setting mechanism, has no springs, has a 98% catch rate and complies with State and Federal humane laws. PBIC has entered into agreement only with veterinarians experienced with feral cats who perform the neutering surgery and ear cropping. The cats are immunized against diseases and vaccinated against rabies, and medical treatment is provided if needed for illness or injury. The cat is returned to its “home” in good health and is monitored for life.
It is the only population control method that has been proven to be successful nationwide. Communities frustrated with over abundance of feral cats have tried extermination, but it is very expensive, inhumane and has failed multiple times. Long term studies have shown that by removing the cats there is a “vacuum effect” created. The void is filled by rodents or other animal life to replace the vacated animals, or another cat moves in and the reproduction cycle begins again. The World Health Organization documented the adverse effect of eradicating of cats on Macquarie Island (located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Antarctica) citing the removal of the cats allowed a rapid growth in the number of rats and rabbits which together caused widespread environmental damage. Cats were imported back to the Island to re-establish the ecological balance.
Does PBIC endorse euthanasia for cats?
PBIC is a “no-kill” organization! No one associated with PBIC believes killing innocent animals is humane or acceptable for healthy animals. Euthanasia is practiced only when the extent of injury or disease causes continued suffering and poor quality of life. Medical treatment is determined on a case by case basis between the veterinarian and the Field Director. PBIC strongly believes every life is precious and that animals are not an expendable commodity.
Is there an answer to the feral cat population problem?
Most definitely, and it begins with responsible cat ownership. PBIC strongly recommends pet owners have their pets spayed or neutered, micro-chipped for identification and keep them safely at home. PBIC has embarked on an outreach program to the community of educational information. Brochures are available at various retailers in Palm Beach and are free to the public; advertisements appear in the newspaper periodically; direct mailings are done throughout the year and this website has a lot of information about how to help. The answer to the feral cat problem is responsible, compassionate care and maintenance by our residents and this organization, PBIC.
So what does PBIC do about feral kittens?
Volunteers and colony caretakers make every effort to pick up kittens at the optimal age of 6-8 weeks when they can be socialized to become loving pets. Kind hearts and willing homes are in place for foster care pending adoptions. When adopted at a young age, pre-arrangements are made with the veterinarian to spay and neuter the cat when age appropriate. We are always looking for forever homes, and anyone interested is urged to call 512-4884 to volunteer.