Every once in awhile I come across an article that makes me want to roll my eyes and go “Huh?” The article in question may be so outlandish and absurd that it makes me wonder if it shouldn’t have been a feature in The National Inquirer instead of a so-called legit news source that people might take more seriously.
Well, late last night I came across a “winner.” The article was published on July 26 and is featured on the NBC NEWS Science website and written by a Marc Lallanilla, a writer for LiveScience and entitled “Gang of feral cats attacks woman and her dog in France.”
Here’s the opening sentence of the article:
“One more reason to love dogs: A gang of feral cats in France attacked a woman and her poodle, forcing both victims to seek medical attention for their injuries.”
Well, sorry folks, but right off the bat one gets the sense that the writer isn’t exactly a cat lover. I can’t help thinking there has to be a lot more behind the story, which was first featured in the UK’s The Independent (1) who had taken the original story of which appeared in France’sl’Est Republicain. (2)
If anyone knows anything about cat behavior, and I’d like to think I do as I’ve had pet cats ever since I was five years old and in the past did feed stray cats (way back in the 1980s), cats are by no means vicious, aggressive attackers, and it doesn’t matter whether a cat is an indoor pet cat, stray or feral. One also has to understand the difference between “stray” and “feral.” A stray cat will often refer to a cat that may at one time have been a pet cat belonging to someone but was abandoned by the owner(s). Stray cats will often be more friendly since they had been used to human companionship and interaction, feral cats on the other hand, are true “wild” cats that have never had any close contact with humans. Many feral cats are often the result of the offspring of the abandoned stray cat who most likely was not spayed/neutered. Since feral cats haven’t had any socialization with humans, they are wary and cautious and will hide from humans. For this article to suggest that a “gang” of feral cats viciously attacked this French 31-year-old woman while she was walking her dog is beyond ludicrous. This is not feral cat behavior in the least.
Sad to say, this latest article seems to be just one in a series of what seems to be a downright anti-cat campaign that has been going on for awhile now and of which suggesting the concept of killing off any stray or feral cats. For instance, I’ve come across articles about New Zealand’s plan to totally eradicate all feral and stray cats. Some states in the U.S., such as New Jersey, had in the past even toyed around with the idea of changing the status of stray/feral cats to “wildlife” which in effect would then make it perfectly legal for people to downright kill any stray/feral cat they encounter.
Then, of course, there was that “infamous” article earlier this year featured in the Orlando Sentinel written by guest writer Ted Williams, whom is a writer for Audubon Magazine. In the full original version of the article, Mr. Williams suggested the idea of poisoning feral/stray cats with Tylenol; his “suggestion” about poisoning was quickly later deleted from the article. This article created such a furor with animal rights activists that petitions were set up demanding to have Mr. Williams dismissed as a writer for the Orlando Sentinel. For awhile he was let go from his guest writer status, but he was unfortunately later reinstated. However, even with the deletion of his original remark to outright poison cats, the article still remains rather antagonistic toward stray/feral cats and is also against the TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) program and would prefer to see a TE (trap/euthanize) program initiated instead. The article continues to ramble on about how stray/feral cats harbor infectious diseases and are a danger to other wildlife such as the bird population. How ludicrous, in my opinion, as cats are not only the animals that can harbor infectious diseases and are not the only predators to other wildlife.
Yes, I do recognize that a growing stray/feral cat population exists, but who has been the culprit in creating such a problem? Humans. To this day, I will never understand why a cats owner would allow their cat to run around outdoors unsupervised. Cats can be very content with being strictly indoors and will live longer, happier, more diseased-free lives. Pet cats, on the other hand, who are allowed to roam free are more likely to pick up on diseases, go missing, run away, or worse meet with some horrible fate as being run over by a car. Also, if that pet cat was never spayed/neutered and allowed to roam, chances are that cat will meet up with another unfixed cat and breed, thus now causing unwanted litters. The cycle of the over population of cats has now started and thus in turn will then create a feral population.
Now the whole essence of the TNR program is to diminish the ever exploding feral cat population and has met with huge success in many areas nationwide. Feral cats often form “colonies” that is a good number of feral cats who in effect band together and form their own territory. When rescuers get involved with the TNR program trap these feral cats and have them spayed/neutered it greatly lessens and reduces the chance of more unwanted feral cats. Also, not only are the feral cats fixed but have also been given vaccines for such diseases as rabies, herpes and calicvirus, lessening the chance of the spreading of such diseases. (4) How can one tell if a feral cat has been given veterinary care of in such a manner? One ear is usually ear-tipped, that is, a section of one ear of the cat is cut off.
Now a person may ask and wonder why these feral cats are then re-released into the wild again instead perhaps placing them into shelters where they may get adopted? Number one, pet shelters, for the most part, are overflowing with unwanted pets dumped into shelters by owners for a variety of reasons to begin with. Number two, these are feral cats, wild, unsociable and not used to human contact; the likelihood that a feral cat can ever be a cuddly pet lap cat is near zero; in fact, most feral cats that are caught and placed into shelters are most likely to be euthanized.
So now getting back to this latest seemingly anti-feral cat article by Marc Lallanilla. I can’t help thinking there has to is a lot more to this than what was related by the so-called “victim” Josette Galliot who claims she was viciously attacked by a gang of six feral cats who knocked her to the ground while walking her dog. Sorry, I just can’t visualize cats knocking a person down to the ground; we’re talking about cats folks, not a wild loose bear terrorizing the neighborhood. Feral cats are not in the habit of making their presence known; if anything, they remain hidden. However, all animals, repeat all animals, whether wild or domestic might go into “attack” mode if they in anyway feel threatened. One can’t help ask then, did this woman somehow provoke these feral cats, did they feel threatened, were they perhaps trying to protect their kittens?
Going back to the idea that stray/feral cats can carry infectious diseases and therefore a health menace. As I’ve indicated other forms of wildlife can carry diseases as well and here’s just a partial listing. One can see a full lists of diseases here:
Diseases Of Wildlife
1). Deer: carriers of ticks~Lyme disease; also Brucella and Mycobacterium tuberculosis
2). Raccons and Skunks: Most likely to have rabies
3). Wild Rabbits: Tularemia
4). Wild rodents and mice: Lymphocytic Choriomeningits, Tularemia, Plague (Yersinia pestis
And of course let’s not forget about mosquitos. One would probably more likely to be bitten by a mosquito that carries the West Niles virus that being suddenly attacked and bitten by a stray/feral cat.
Mr. Lallanilla’s article is the latest in this trend of the hysterical mania and negative mind-set of how dangerous stray/feral cats are and therefore they should be totally eliminated. I can’t help think this is the same hysterical mania mind-set that occurred during the Middle Ages when cats were considered evil, Devil’s advocates and familiars to witches and were also killed off. Sadly, I hardly think Mr. Lallanilla’s article will be the last that we hear of such nonsensical drivel.
Feral Cat Attack Article
Ted Williams article:
Good article by Alley Cats Alley About Stray vs. Feral Cats:
Another good article about feral cats:
New Zealand Feral Cats Articles:
Article concerning New Jersey to change status of feral cats to wildlife