Desex, anyone?

I am abhorred to find that for both colonies of stray cats I come across when I do my lunchtime hike, there have recently been new additions – newborn kittens! I reported that to a friend who is an active animal helper and she promised that she would help to find homes for the little kittens if I could capture them. That, for me, is mission impossible as I do not live nearby and I haven’t built up any relationship with those cats. But there is a woman who feeds them regularly, and if I could get her to help then the plan may work.

So a couple of days ago when I saw her again during a hike I asked if she could help capture the cats – the older ones for de-sexing and the babies for adoption. Unfortunately, she was not keen at all. She said curtly that she is a cleaning worker of a building nearby and had to get back to work after the feeding so did not have much time for a chat. She also said that it would be difficult for her to capture the kittens. That sounded like an excuse more than anything else. I can see with my own eyes how the cats nudge her and let her stroke them when she feeds them. Surely she is the one who can lure them into a cage if she has the mind to do it. But she has made her point. Period.

I have to say that I have great admiration for her act of kindness. Without a doubt, it costs her much time and money to regularly feed the cats that number no fewer than twenty according to my observation. But I can see that our views of how best to help them differ. She obviously thinks that as long as she keeps caring for them, they are fine. My view, on the other hand, is:

(1) Although the cats have certainly benefited from such kindness, the benefit only lasts for as long as the help keeps coming. Circumstances may change so that it can no longer be sustained. If this happens all of a sudden, it will be a huge blow for the cats who have developed a long-time reliance on the help.

(2) Stray cats are domesticated animals which have been abandoned to the street. They are not accumstoned to a street life in which they are exposed to all sorts of risks, challenges and abuses. Keeping the population under control and finding homes for them where possible are the best ways to reduce their misery.

I do realize that this view is not shared by some people. For one thing, de-sexing is considered by many as anti-nature. Just the other day, a relative who has one cat he swears he wouldn’t neuter said that it was inhumane for me to do so to my four, even though I told him that de-sexed cats are happier and healthier than cats whose sexual needs cannot be satisfied. During one of my “Trap-Neuter-Return” trips sometime ago, a local resident came forth and challenged us for our right to do it and branded us as “trouble makers”.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Ingrained ideas are difficult to change. Always the best policy is to remain humble and reflect on the matter from different perspectives rather than just being fixated on our own. In the present case, we could perhaps try to think about the situation from the vantage point of the cats that we so want to help.

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