Just after the new year in 2012 a lovely young cat showed up at my place. He was as ‘feral’ as any cat could be, but sweet. My guess would be he’d never spent any meaningful time with people. He was smart. Smart enough to find me. Smart enough to trust me. But also smart enough to look after himself.
Which is why, for me to take him to a shelter to be held, tortured (as holding untame cats can be described as nothing else) and then after a time killed would have been extremely cruel. And massively unethical. Apart from not being ‘pet cat’ material, he was otherwise healthy – so why should we take his life?
He took off like a shot whenever we went out the front door. Everything about his behaviour said ‘displaced untame puss’ rather than ‘cheeky neighbour’s pet’ – in fact his unsocialised nature couldn’t have been more textbook; silent, timid and hungry.
I dubbed this guy 'Other Cat' and started giving him a bit of food. In three weeks he went from a skitty-feral, to a chubbabubba who would stay nearby as I filled his bowl… even though he gently hissed at me as I did so.
But you know – just like in the Community Cats campaign – feeding on its own isn’t enough. Then my humane cat trap arrived! Woo!
And he went off to the vet for a desexing operation and a microchip.
Other Cat has a home – outdoors and wild – and now he had the odds on his side as he has me to support him. His home is my home. We are both invasive species, except my life – my house, my car, my city, my massive human sucking of resources – does far, far more environmental damage than his ever could.
Groups claiming to be ‘advocates for cats’, refuse to stand up for cats like Other Cat. They cling to the outdated notion that cats like him can’t live happy, healthy lives outdoors. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – the hundreds of healthy, fed, adult cats they are killing. And all for nothing.
Since he wasn't a housepet, he needed somewhere comfy to sleep. After a few days, he moved in.
And the then set about his job of continuing to win us over.
The RSPCA would say OC cat is "suffering" and should be impounded; the Lost Dogs Home would say that he is 'feral' so his life is worth nothing; the Cat Protection Society Victoria rallied all the major groups in the state to run a campaign saying he is better off dead than fed; while the Animal Welfare League in SA teaches people to think of him as a nuisance. PETA says someone might harm him, so better to preventively steal his life. ALL of these organisations claim to be working in cat welfare.
If community cats are smart and cheeky enough to start working their way into hearts and homes, why would we think we have the right step in and kill them 'for their own good'. Yet, the reality is killing Other Cat and those like him is the policy of nearly every major animal welfare organisation in the country. How can we honestly say that killing him back when he arrived would have been the right thing to do?
It's now 2017 and OC has lived with us, happily and healthily, for five years. He faces the same threats as any other outdoor animal, yet we wouldn't advocate putting all other free-roaming animals in the zoo for their protection. He just needs his life respected and he'll do the rest.
Other Cat would not have been ‘better off dead’ back in 2012. He wouldn’t be ‘better off dead’ now. That is a lie. It is a cruel lie which justifies the shelter-intake torture and killing of tens of thousands of cats each year. By the very same groups who take millions of dollars in the name cat care.
Happy ‘caughtya day’ OC! I <3 you gorgeous bub!