25 years ago, my husband I moved to our first apartment together. We were young, broke, and had no experience in how to run a household.
The first week we moved in, I noticed cats eating out of the dumpsters. As an animal lover I felt horrible for them and decided the best thing I could do was to start feeding them. A few months later, they started screaming all night, every night and I knew they were all breeding and fighting! My first thought was that I could not believe the complex was allowing this many cats to live in the parking lots. My second thought was that the landlord sure as heck would notice 50 more when they all have babies!
I had no idea how to get the cats in carriers and had no idea what a cat trap was.
I was naïve and decided to call animal control.
There are still many issues with animal control in NJ, but I assure you the issues of 25 years ago were in some ways worse.
Animal control did not ignore strays, but did kill anyone they could get their hands on. After being screamed and cursed at in New Jersey, I looked elsewhere for help. No one local had responded to my pleas, and in 1997, social media or at least one that I knew how to use did not even exist! Would you believe I found help in Oregon?
The bottom line of my story is that I persisted, I found a way, I trapped, I worked overtime to pay a vet, I did it all alone and I did it with no sleep and no extra funds handy. I didn't "wait for someone to step up" and I didn't believe that someone else was going to pay for the cats I fed.
My story's ending: Every cat was fixed, there were no kittens born and the colony was controlled!
The war we fight today is NOT with cats and the number of strays we are facing. The way is with human apathy and unwillingness to work to make change.
While there are many amazing people who feed cats and find a way to TNR on their own or with the help of non-profits providing funding, there are far more who throw in the towel when they are not told that someone else will trap, transport, foster, adopt out and pay for everything.
In addition to seeing an unwillingness of much of the general public to take responsibility for the cats they feed, we have witnessed a sharp change in the policies of towns. While we desperately need a statewide "If you feed them, you fix them" law, it currently does not exist. I am not suggesting non-profits or even towns stop helping, but there is currently no consequence at all for people who simply refuse to TNR. The only consequence is borne by the number of cats left to breed and can be seen in the sheer number of feral cats roaming our streets.
I know this all sounds horrible and it most certainly is. But...we have a plan. We are working every day to not only encourage those like me who feel bad and started feeding cats to do more--we are also here to help and support them on journeys to become trapping caretakers! I had to learn by trial and error with one nice woman on a phone in Oregon walking me through this. I made every mistake there was to make! There is no longer a reason to learn the hard way. We are here for you.
If you are willing to accept that there is no way "the government" or other entity can do it all for us and you are ready to make change in the suffering you are witnessing, we can help! What I have always realized is that caring about cats breeding and suffering on the street has nothing to do with fairness. It has everything to do with the cats and how much horror we are willing to stand by and watch.
It is time to roll up your sleeves, apply for vouchers and learn to trap. We can teach you. We have traps to lend and I will personally make sure you avoid all of the mistakes I have made in 25 years of trapping.
Do you care enough about the cats you feed to change their lives for the better? Then I will hear from you soon...