Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Killing Stray Cats

Recently, I've been reading a lot about stray cats being killed and it's now time for me to comment.

Taste Better blogged about the fact that China has begun killing stray cats in preparation for the Olympics. Take a look at this horrifying article about Beijing's cat death camps.

The Chinese government's plan to deal with their feral cat problem is disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Deb at Invisible Voices posted about this article on CNN.

The article is appropriately titled, "Town puts price on cats' heads." The town of Randolph, Iowa is offering $5 for each feral cat brought in. The cats will be kept at a veterinarian clinic for an unspecified amount of time. If a cat's "owner" does not claim the cat, s/he will be euthanized. Wonderful.

And, to make matters worse, John Snyder, Vice President of Companion Animals at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), supports the killing of strays! The CNN article states "he doesn't have a problem with humanely killing a stray cat."

John: Rounding up stray cats and killing them is never humane!

Is HSUS actually in agreement with PETA on euthanization? Is that their solution to the pet overpopulation? I hope not. I hope the comment made reflects Snyder's own opinion, and not that of the organization at large.

I am pro-pet. I love my dog and cats, and believe companion animals enrich our lives in more ways then we know. That said, we do need to control the overpopulation problem. It's terrible that millions of animals are dying in our shelters each year. HSUS estimates the number of shelter euthanizations to be between three and four million.

I have a better solution to our pet overpopulation, involving a four-pronged approach:
  1. Put a ban on breeding

  2. Spay and neuter your pets (Bob Barker had it right)

  3. Keep your cats indoors

    • Cats wreak havoc on the ecosystem, as they are unnatural predators introduced by us

  4. Send feral cats to sanctuaries or leave them be

Does anyone else have any ideas? Please feel free to share.


Jennifer said...

Thank you for posting something about this!

We have a few stray cats in our neighborhood. A couple of years ago, I was feeding them, and we came across a cat that could NOT have been a stray, she was a beautiful cat who was socialized to be around people. Since we already have two cats and live in a small apartment, we cared for her for a few days and my mom agreed to take her. She is still happy and healthy and has a wonderful home, I hate to think of what would have happened to her had she been found by the city.

We also watched someone just drop a puppy once (they saw us watching them do it, they had asked us if we wanted a dog, we said we couldn't keep one in our apartment so they just left the puppy in the parking lot), well we couldn't just leave this puppy, so we took him in, cared for him overnight, weighed taking him to the humane society (it's kill shelter), decided against it thinking we'd contact friends to see if they wanted it, or keep him until a local, no-kill animal foster home could take him. Luckily, a friend with lots of land and love was willing to take him.

I get so outraged over what people, and now apparently governments, will do to animals simply because they are 'just animals'. It's sick. I am currently reading 'An Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog' and see a lot of the justifications he is talking about in the book in play in 'real life'.

All your points seem wonderful. I agree with your ban on breeding, we have so many dogs and cats in humane societies and animal shelters that need homes, why are we so 'uppity' in 'needing' pure bred animals anyway?

You also made me feel better with your post. I have often felt bad about keeping my cats indoors, feeling that it wasn't 'natural', but that I live in an apartment complex where it would be dangerous and irresponsible to let them outside. I never thought that in a lot of ways, cats are like many of the things that we bring in from other places that end up causing havoc on the environment because they have no natural predators.

Billy said...

Hi Jennifer,

My first post didn't go through for some reason.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.

I think you're doing the right thing by keeping your cats indoors. They are unnatural predators and are having a drastic effect on the wild bird population.

For more information, check out the Cats Indoors! campaign, started by the American Bird Conservancy.

A lot of the people here in Seattle let their cats roam free outdoors, which is odd because they claim to be eco-friendly. Letting your cats outside is not good for the ecosystem.


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I agree about the ban on breeding. There is SUCH a horrible overpopulation problem (as you mentioned) that it is just irresponsible to breed your pet. And why buy from a breeder when you can find a beautiful animal in desperate need of a good home? If you REALLY just have to have a pure-bred, there are even pure-bred rescue organizations, so there's just no excuse to buy from a breeder or *shudder* pet shop/puppy mill.

Anonymous said...

People should stop being shocked by plans by communities to round up animals and euthanize them, and by the fact that HSUS recognizes the practical issues involved with having cats all over the place. Instead of getting all angry about it, donate some money to get some animals spayed and neutered, and tell people to keep animals in doors. One day we ought to get to where we don't have any cats outdoors. It's bad for bird life, and for the cats too, oftentimes.

Billy said...

Thanks for sharing.

Chocolate Covered Vegan: You're absolutely right. All three of my pets are rescues.

Anonymous: I completely agree that outdoor cats are horrible for the ecosystem. Their lives are, on average, also shortened. However, the solution is not to round them up and euthanize them. That's inhumane.

Nicki said...

Can I get angry about it and donate money to spay and neuter pets? Not an option?

missblueberry said...

Thanks for your post. It is brutal, and is relative to many of the other fantastically short sighted 'plans' going on in China at the moment.
I was there a few years ago, spent quite a bit of time trying to sort myself out when I got home. There is such a fine line between my perception (which was jaded with a north american gaze) and the wretched decisions/actions that are going on in that country right now.
I did finally decide that it wasn't terrible of me to feel that some policy makers in China are making poor choices....yes there is difference, yes they experienced industrialization etc in a very different way then we did - but there is documented studies out there that should help them not to commit the same mistakes we have made against the environment, human rights etc.

I think the whole - oh when you tell them not to change and to do it our way you are being ethnocentric is a copout argument....Everyone, no matter where you are or what your culture is, HAS to be responsible to human rights, the environment and other issues that are tied to the fundamental idea of humanity.

Sorry for the longish post.

Rural Vegan said...

Honestly, there isn't much the Chinese government could do these days that would shock me. Disgust, yes - but it's not surprising.

Trap-Neuter-Return has been proven to be the most effective tactic when dealing with colonies of feral cats. It is also the most humane option since no cats are being killed, and often the most economical solution as well.

And of course, everything that CCV said about breeding was 100%. I am in favor of a complete breeding ban and mandatory sterilization; there is no other humane option anymore when millions of animals are killed in shelters each year due simply to overpopulation.

Lisa said...

Oh, but then where would I get my puggle or my labradoodle?... Ugh, makes me sick. My friend recently mentioned she was buying a designer dog for her daughter, so I had to give her a piece of my mind.
I think it's sick how we treat animals. In our way? Kill it. Don't want it? Kill it. A "potential threat" to the neighbors? Kill it. Every animal deserves a chance to live its life.
How outraged would we be if someone dropped their kid off in a parking lot, or in the woods outside town? But nobody cares if it's an animal. Billy, you know the story of the rabbits at Greenlake right? Yet another story of unwanted animals left to fend for themselves.

Billy said...

Miss Blueberry,

I'm glad you brought up the concern about being perceived as being ethnocentric. That's a concern of mine that I've struggled with.

You are exactly right when you point to the fact that there are numerous studies available on practices that have devastating results. Just look at what we've done to the land here in America. They should steer clear.

I also agree that everyone should be responsible for human (and animal) rights and the earth. We all live here together. We have a responsibility to not harm one another. And, doesn't it make sense to take care of the planet we live on?

Billy said...

Rural Vegan,

Thanks for your response. I completely agree with you and am horrified at what the Chinese government does. Human and animal rights violations all over the map, along with environmental destruction.

I agree with you on Trap-Neuter-Return and am in favor of that. There is no need to euthanize feral cats.

Also, thanks for your comment on breeding. Breeders are being completely irresponsible and turning a blind eye to the fact that they are contributing to the deaths of animals in shelters.

Billy said...


I completely agree. That seems to be the prevailing opinion. If animals are in your way, kill them. Perfect examples are how governments are handling the wolf and bear populations. It's disgusting and isn't something done by a truly civilized society. A society that brutalizes, tortures, objectifies, and kills animals has no right to call itself civilized.

I do not know the complete story regarding the rabbits at Greenlake. I know there was an effort to remove rabbits from Woodland Park. Please inform me.


Vegan_Noodle said...

Wow, that article about china is so sickening.
I think all of your solutions sounds like good ones. Banning breeding is such an important step. Thanks for getting this information out there....

dreamy said...

It is really crazy. I admire Mrs Hu in the article who tries to keep 250 cats in her house! It was the same here last time, our govt rounded up cats to be culled :S. Humans always blame diseases on other species but never on themselves.

Although I believe it would be best for cats and dogs not to be sterilised, I guess theres no choice since they have no idea what's gonna happen to them and their kids.

Billy said...


I admire the woman in the article as well. Good for her for saving as many as possible!

The government's policy is atrocious.

Ben said...

Let's hear it for TNR (trap, neuter, release). We have managed a feral colony for 10 years. Thanks to the Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Project ( and local vets we have had 30+ spayed or neutered. The cats are still there—well, the colony is smaller than it's ever been—and we feed them morning and night. No kittens for 7 years or so.

cariegrls said...

I am all for TNR too. To me, it's the best option. And apparently the HSUS's comments were taken out of context. Alot of people say the HSUS is all for the extinction of companion animals, but that just isn't the case.

missblueberry said...

I am getting a TNR tee-shirt made.

Any takers?

Lisa said...

hi Billy,
Thanks for commenting on my blog - wouldn't have found your site again without it! :) Have you bookmarked now though!
I think my Greenlake bunnies and the Woodland Park ones you mentioned are the same. From what I know, those cute little Easter bunnies didn't go over as well as mom and dad liked, so they got deposited in the nice city park area to multiply. Nice. Just one more reason not to hastily buy a pet for your kids. Do they not think things through?? Ugh.
The same thing causes these feral cat colonies - cats get dropped off somewhere because they're not wanted anymore, they breed, multiply, and then hundreds of cats are killed because someone couldn't bring their one unwanted pet to the shelter.

Billy said...


Thanks for the link to the Feral Cat Project. That's awesome that you're involved with such a great organization.

Billy said...


Thanks for your comment. I saw that post by Wayne Pacelle as well. I left a comment but it hasn't been posted on the blog. I'm glad the comment was taken out of context, although I'd like further explanation from Wayne and/or HSUS.

Billy said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for sharing. And, yes, I do think our bunnies are the same.

There are logical solutions to overpopulation problems that do not involving hunting and killing. It seems as though our species does not want to take the time to humanely handle such situations.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to finally hear a measured stance on this issue. So many people are like "We must kill them all! This is the fault of the people who didn't spay and neuter! RARR!" I found your blog by searching in Google "What would happen if we stopped killing cats?" Too many cats could be bad, but often the people who tell you it's bad are just parroting things they've heard.

These animals did fine for thousands of years without us and unless they're a real imminent danger to people, I don't think we have a right to kill them off just for our own convenience. When choosing whether or not to play god, I think we should err on the side of NOT killing, and just staying out of the way. Sometimes I feel like saying to these "fix or die" people "Maybe we can shoot the cats from a helicopter."

Billy said...

Thank you for your refreshing comment Anonymous. It really made my day. It's wonderful to see that others feel the same way and value life.

Here on Prince Edward Island there is a nonprofit organization called Cat Action. They trap feral cats, bring them to clinics where they neuter or spay them, and then release them back into the wild. I think it's a wonderful program. I'm very much in favor of trap, fix, and release programs.

Thanks again for sharing your opinion and visiting my blog. I hope you continue to read and come back.