Swickard: The right way to deal with feral animals

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. My mother rescued a half-starved feral cat one time. He seemed like any of her other rescued cats but even after neutering he was anti-social with the other cats. Also he had a great desire to mark territory pungently which he did. She had to cage him where he lived out his days. At no time during his years with us was he able to join her other cats.
      There were always about six cats, all inside cats, living in our house. They came into our lives one by one, a rescue here and there. And then there was that feral cat named “Yoohoo” who could not live with domesticated cats.
      My mother almost taught her cats to use the human toilet instead of the litter-pan. She lacked just one hold-out, a black female named Witch. We kids had to make sure we left the seat down and the lid up. But that knucklehead Witch would not do it. 
      I would have drop-kicked Witch through the goalpost of life and then had five cats with no need for kitty-litter. Not my dear mother who shrugged and went back to full-time kitty-litter for six cats. Anyway she was always going to have kitty-litter around because of Yoohoo.
      Certainly on ranches and farms the most damming comment for man or animal is, “He’s undependable. That was Yoohoo. Some days he was almost pleasant. Most days he was not. But he was always undependable.
      I was thinking about my brush with a feral cat this week because city leaders in several communities have struggled with the problem of feral cats. These non-domesticated cats live away from humans and prey mostly on wild birds and other small animals. Some people even put out feed which makes the problem worse. Read full column