CATs Goals & Objectives
The goal of CATs is to control and reduce, through non-lethal means, the feral cat population in Bermuda. As part of CATs function, we raise money to fulfil the objectives as listed below:
- to stabilise colonies of feral cats in co-operation with householders, businesses & other groups, through spaying & neutering;
- to manage & maintain colonies of feral cats;
- to secure legislative changes which ensure responsible ownership and care of domestic and feral cats;
- to foster public education concerning feline issues;
- to monitor disease control in feral cat populations;
- to rescue and place suitable kittens for adoption;
- to provide the community with advice on issues relating to feral cats;
- to collaborate with other local & international organisations with similar aims
Problems Associated with Cats in Bermuda
CATs regularly deals with members of the public who are having problems with cats – both domestic & feral. There are problems that are common to all cats, as well as specific problems with feral cats. In general, a large percentage of the public are happy to have some cats around in order to control rats and, in some instances, because they are attractive to tourists.
Many of the problems that, in people’s perception, cats cause are actually a result of anti-social or unhelpful behaviour on the part of humans. Common cat problems include:
- cats ripping up garbage bags that are out in trash cans and making a mess at unsecured dumpsters;
- abandoned cats looking for a new home, stealing food put outside for pet cats;
- trespassing cats that disturb dogs, causing them to bark;
- aggressive behaviour and spraying to mark territory by cats that have not been fixed ;
- digging up flowers and vegetables in gardens and farms ;
- health risks from faeces – especially for people with suppressed immune systems;
- overpopulation – particularly in cases where people feed cats but do not spay or neuter them;
- unattractiveness due to lack of food and/or poor health;
- posing a health threat from cat to cat through injuries due to aggressive mating and fighting as well as the spread of infections such as FIV;
- dumping cats and kittens in other neighbourhoods.
Feral Cat Colony Management
Feral cats are an international problem and a great deal of research has been done regarding the most effective way of managing them. Through simple neglect or abandonment, it is extremely easy for domestic cats to become feral cats. Such cats will gravitate towards areas where there is a supply of food and shelter. These cats will continue to have kittens until the available food supply is exhausted. The nature of colonies of cats is such that the population is generally young with a high mortality and morbidity rate.
There are three options available to tackle the feral cat challenge:
- do nothing and allow the cat population to reach the maximum numbers supported by the available food supply
- euthanasia of trapped cats, carried out regularly and constantly, to keep up with rapid feline breeding habits and migration patterns
- implementation of a spay/neuter programme combined with controlled feeding stations to achieve stable, mature and non-reproductive populations.
While few would agree with the “do nothing” approach, a number of people advocate the euthanasia option. In CATs experience, mass eradication is ineffective. If all the food sources that support a feral cat population are not removed when trapping and euthanasia take place (and they usually aren’t), then a new population of feral cats and/or stray cats will quickly fill the vacuum.
Ethically, one must question a position that favours the euthanasia of feral cats, whose existence is the direct result of human carelessness and neglect
CATs advocates option #3 above. Moreover, CATs recommends that the Bermuda Government support its efforts by enacting legislation making mandatory the spaying or neutering of all cats not intended for breeding purposes.
The Trap, Test, Spay/
Neuter and Release Programme
CATs volunteers man a ‘hotline’ that receives calls from residents and business owners about areas where feral cats can be found. CATs traps the feral cats, neuters (“fixes”) them and returns them to the place where they were trapped. CATs encourages residents to feed the fixed cats to reduce the occurrence of scavenging and foster territorial behaviour that may discourage the intrusion of other cats into that area. To avoid cats being re-trapped, the vet notches the left ear which serves as an indicator that the animal is already altered.
Some facts to bear in mind:
- the reason feral cats are found in any particular location is due to the existing presence of a food source, usually household or restaurant garbage, however meagre.
- CATs traps and releases cats in the place in which they were found – it does not seek to establish cat colonies where there are no feral cats.
- The percentage of cats that test positive for FIV or FeLV is gradually declining.