Wednesday, April 13, 2005

meow

So, the big issue here in Madison these days is the proposal to legalize the shooting of feral cats (CNN story here; activist site with fetching logo here). In related news, reports are that the TAA yesterday passed a resolution urging the university to allow cat-loving-vigilantes to shoot any supporters of the feral cat proposal who are found roaming around on campus. As you might imagine, the issue has brought out all sorts of Madisonians unable to comprehend what barbarous instinct the rural unwashed of Wisconsin must have to want to have the legal right to shoot feral cats.

An earlier version of the CNN story had a woman holding a sign that read "Too Cute to Kill." Which really says it all about at least one certain direction of animal rights discussion: instead of weighing the rights of different animals--after all, each feral cat does kill 20-50 songbirds, or whatever--on some calculus that considers the animals on their own terms, we should judge the issue in terms of the animals' capacity to provoke tender-hearted feelings in humans. Because, of course, the moral issues here are really ultimately all about us and what makes us feel good.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa. We had sheep. We had feral cats. If the feces from cats gets into hay, it can cause a pregnant ewe to abort. I do understand that baby lambs, however cute they may be, are not as cute as little-pretty-wittle-kitty. Even so, my dad shoots feral cats. His son takes no joy in this practice, but feels no remorse for it either. If I was persuaded that there was a reasonable alternative, I might feel differently.

19 comments:

Bill said...

Yeah, crazy, who knew that the left could be idealogues? How is abortion acceptable to these same people? I can deal with the far left just about as much as I can deal with the far right. Or Rod Stewart for that matter.

Jack Bog said...

Yeah, but wait 'til they find this post. Flame thread time!

Anonymous said...

What would a bunch of feral cats be called if they were roaming around together? A pride? I would be inclined to call them a pack but I know that's not the correct term. Wouldn't it sound better if the word bunch was used? " A bunch of feral cats were seen this morning at...." or "recently a bunch of feral cats raided a chicken hatchery at..." I think using the word pride would tend to legitimize any damage they might do.

Tom Bozzo said...

Well, trap-neuter-release is advocated as more effective by some of the pro-cat groups, though a quick web search indicates that it's also controversial. Evidently More Research is Needed.

Once (or if) you get past the method of control, much of the issue would seem to be how many cats can be trapped and neutered vs. how many can be successfully hunted. In urban areas, without creating a significant hazard to non-cats, the latter figure is basically zero (if it were otherwise, I'd consider taking on my neighborhood's g** d*** raccoons, not least because I don't want them messing with my cat). In rural areas, I expect trapping cats gets costly relative to the less feel-good alternatives -- and presumably there would be some mortality for feral cats trapped in remote locations anyway.

Last, the best thing about sheep is twin baby lambs. (I hope that link works.)

jeremy said...

trap-neuter-release-defecate-on-hay-kill-cute-little-baby-lambs is actually a more complete name for the plan.

Anonymous said...

...and cute little birds; don't forget tweety.

Anonymous said...

Those feral cats in the wild eat many baby rabbits and they climb up into nests and eat baby birds too. Nothing is being said about the irresponsible pet owners that drop them off out in the country when they get tired of spending money on them as a pet or just lose interest in them. Maybe a few irresponsible pet owners should be trapped and fined and a stigma laid on them for once.

Anonymous said...

and, let's not forget about the very cute little field mice.

Anonymous said...

Where is the feral children advocate when you need a story most?

Anonymous said...

Feral cats don't hunt together, so if you saw a group of them, they could be covered under the venereal term for hunters - a blast of hunters. Under rare but normal collective cat conditions, cats comprise a cluster, a clutter, or best of all, a 'clowder of cats.'

Native passerines typically migrate to Central and South America, where they are under some pressure from insecticide use, and grave pressure from habitat destruction. Any assistance we can give obviating the mortality factors here in their summer habitat will keep our world richer.

In urban settings, a high-quality .177 or .20 pellet gun shot precisely will do it all, from rock doves ('pigeons') to tomcats, and silently too.

-- Simon Kenton

HaloJonesFan said...

A group of cats is called a-CHOO.

Anonymous said...

That was clever, halojonesfan! I think a passle of cats might suffice to denote a collective grouping of prowling felines, but far be it for me to question or challenge a renowned and dead frontier scout and Indian fighter. Come to think of it, cats are solitary hunters so the point is moot I suppose. Still, if I were to set out a saucer of milk for the alley cats that prowl behind my house and they gathered around it, I might be inclined to tell someone that I had just fed a passle of cats some milk. Mr. Kenton, are you familiar with Simon's capture by the Shawnee near the Ohio river? My paternal Grandfather, Alexander Montgomery, was with him, killed and scalped. Bo-nah, the leader of the party that captured Simon, then slapped his face with Grandpa's scalp. SK relates this in the book he had written.

Tom Bozzo said...

Simon: Sure, "high quality" and "precise" shots would do the trick. Then there are the shots that actually would be taken.

Jeremy: An irony noted by this UW extension article is that rural households are more likely than urban households to keep cats -- and less likely to try to keep them indoors, I'll bet. So feral cats aren't the baby lambs' only feline problem.

jeremy said...

Tom: Yes, we had exactly this problem with the Outdoor Kitty of a neighbor. No, my dad did not shoot it. (My father, I feel like I must add, is very fond of animals and not a hunter, so I'm sure he takes no pleasure in shooting cats, nor in shooting other animals--namely, skunks, which you really need to worry about since they are practically little smelly rabies machines. You wonder why Pepe Le Pew was so mad about love? It was the hydrophobia eating away his brain.)

Anonymous said...

Jeremy,
I often get to see you wear your "sociologist" hat and your "drunken karaoke guy" hat, but I so rarely get to see you wear your "midwest farm boy" hat. I think you should talk more about baby animals on your blog.

Anonymous said...

ooooh! hey jeremy, didja ever see anyone's hands get mangled by farm equipment?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could blog the rendering truck story. It's my favorite of all the Jeremy-as-midwest-farm-boy stories.
--KH

Goesh said...

When I was growing up on a farm, a big motivator for staying in school was the dead animal truck. Parents and some of the teachers always told us kids that if we ever dropped out of school, we would end up driving the dead animal truck. There was a fertilizer plant that would come and pick up dead cattle, thus saving farmers the expense of hiring a backhoe or Cat to bury the critter, or leaving it to rot and stink, even if it was drug well away from the farm buildings. The dead animal truck was nasty looking to begin with and of course it carried a stench and the guys driving it looked as bad as the truck did. It had a macabre aura to it, dark, rusty and rumbling and emanating a stench, loved by dogs with its cargo of carrion. It would fixate our attention, tempting us to question our mortality, but we were saved by the grace of knowing we would not be stuck driving it if we stayed in school. There was an unspoken but morbid fascination with the dead animal truck. It didn't come around that often, but as kids we would stop our play and stare as it rumbled past. I swore off posting here but feral cats, sheep, rabies, etc broke my will.

Ken Houghton said...

I've been thinking about Tom's point above. If the problem being dealt with is autoaborted sheep, then shooting feral cats isn't going to solve it unless you also shoot the domestic cats that also sh*t in the hay.

But apparently shooting domestic cats is perfectly legitimate, since the weaponry Simon Kenton recommends can be used at such a distance that being able to tell that the cat has a collar is optional.

A lot of people living in rural areas should start calling their cats "Collateral" and "Damage."