To The Editor:
Apparently it is necessary for me to wade deeper into the mire on the feral cat issue in Massena.
A young reporter’s misunderstanding and a misheard word was all that was needed for Watertown Daily Times St. Lawrence County Editor Jeffrey A. Savitskie to gallop off to the races in his recent blog/editorial.
In my conversation with reporter Tim Fenster, we discussed feral cats as well as the exploding cat population in the Town of Massena and other rural communities. In that discussion, I mentioned that I see cats roaming around town each night when I take my elderly dog for car ride. I never said, nor do I believe, that the cats I see are feral. Mr. Fenster made that assumption - an honest mistake; no harm, no foul. I also said the wild cats have a “miserable life” not a “measurable life,” but again a minor error.
Instead, the cats I see each night are most likely domestic cats released by their owners each day to roam the neighborhood, mess in neighbors’ flower beds and stalk birds in the same neighbors’ feeders. The local animal shelter is flooded with dozens of cats produced by irresponsible cat owners who refuse to spay and neuter their pets but are willing to turn them loose each day to defecate and procreate where and when the cats see fit.
I have criticized well-meaning but misguided individuals who think they are doing a good thing by feeding feral cats. Obviously I made a poor choice when I said we should let those same cats starve rather than feed them.
But what is the alternative?
One critic said we should capture the wild cats, spend public money to spay and neuter them, and then release them into the wild again. That plan is worse than misguided. It is foolhardy. These cats have no shelter, no warmth, no food source. In fact, I’m sure coyotes would love to see the cats on their dinner table. Rabies, mange and other diseases are also possible outcomes awaiting the felines.
Others, including Mr. Savitskie, have called me cruel, but they offer no alternative. One person criticized my stance but recommended we round up the cats and euthanize them. I would have no problem with that solution either, but I won’t use taxpayers’ monies to pay for it.
So, Mr. Savitskie can do his sarcastic best to portray me as some cold hearted wretch who wants cats to die, but he offers no solutions. Sometimes, that’s what editors do; spout off with lots of opinions and sarcasm but come up far short in solving problems.
Here’s an idea: maybe Northern New York Newspaper Corporation’s delivery people can lure the cats into their cars in the wee morning hours when they are delivery papers and drop them off at Mr. Savitskie’s home. I’m sure he would welcome them with open arms…and empty flower beds.
Joseph D. Gray, Supervisor, Town of Massena