To feed, or not to feed


I have always believed that stray feeding is a humane treatment of animals. Something happened recently in my neighbourhood, that had me ponder over feeding of stray cats.

I had covered a regular feeder who was away from home for 3 weeks.

Once, when I fed my community cats in an open space, someone who claimed that he represented the resident committee, told me that I am not allowed to feed stray animals in public space. This despite the fact I said I am a responsible cat feeder and would not litter. Sadly, it did not matter to him, and I was told the same stance applies towards all other cat feeders in the estate.

And so I wonder, is he implying that we stand by, and see the cats suffer and starve to death? In any case, he gave me the impression that he is hoping the cats will fade away.

Such anti-cat stance leaves me disturbed, and I am saddened by the prejudicial views towards stray cats. What happened to being kind and caring to other creatures, not to mention these community cats do not present a danger to humans?

Strays live a harsh life on the streets – expose to the elements, live in fear and not know where their next meal will come from. Cats pose little physical danger to adult humans, so the least I can do is provide them food and water to make their lives a little easier. Is that even wrong?

I don’t deny there is a problem, and it lies in irresponsible feeding that results in littering. Unfortunately, it is undermining the well intentions of dedicated caregivers. The small piles of food leftovers on the path by random or irresponsible feeders attract roaches, rats and pigeons. It causes a hygiene problem, and the anti-cat stance is a straightforward fix for some town councils.

I think the crux of the matter is people litter in public areas. There’s still a segment of our society that does not respect public space. It’s hard to deal with recalcitrant rogue feeders, but I believe, many are blissfully ignorant of the troubles they have caused.

Telling residents, including dedicated caregivers not to feed community cats is barking up the wrong tree, in my opinion. The focus should be on littering/ feeding behaviour. Oh, has the RC engaged the views, and help of our dedicated cat caregivers? In my earlier encounter, the person scooted off before I could even speak my mind.

Here we have, a group of residents bonding over their community cats. I call them community cats because these cats have adapted to community life, living in a managed colony with  dedicated caretakers who provides regular feedings. A group of people whom I know personally, taking turns to feed our community cats on a daily basis, and checking the well-being of these cats to the last whiskas. If the cats are unwell or injured, they will be whisked off to the vet by these caregivers.

Incidentally, my community cats are neutered. Neutering a cat prevents unwanted pregnancies, curb unwanted behavioural patterns and reduces the risk of certain diseases. Did you know that neutered cats receive a eartip – a small snip off their left ear – to indicate they have been neutered?

All this was made possible by one resident who went above and beyond to trap, neutered and release (TNR) our community cats, a proven method, endorsed by SPCA, to humanely control the stray population.

Such stories of a cat community’s devotion and compassion for our cats are both touching and inspiring. We should never be made to feel like a criminal for feeding responsibly.

I am aware a mindful balance is needed for everyone to live in harmony. There will be detractors, and as for me, I will continue to do my part to protect our furry friends, and educate our feeders.

For the record, feeding stray cats is not illegal, but littering is.