Thank you for not feeding the feral cats

If you really want to help the feral cats, don’t feed them.

 I live in a community complex that, for years, has always had a few feral cats hanging out in the surrounding bushes. I couldn’t help but admire these mysterious survivors — they were sleek, smart, totally independent and perfectly self-maintaining. And as a result of their presence and natural skills, we had no pesky rodents, but still plenty of birds. 

Things seemed balanced, natural and right.

But then, about two years ago, a few tenants started to feed these feral cats on a regular basis. Some did it for kicks, some from a savior complex. 

Either way, the cats loved it and grew in numbers and bravery until we ended up with a colony of 15 or so well-fed, not-so-feral cats running all over the place, fat cats, pesky cats, fighting cats, mating cats, pregnant cats, baby cats, noisy cats, messy cats, sick cats.

 Imagine a colony of lazy wild cats with nothing better to do but sleep, eat and poop in your immediate vicinity each and every day for weeks and months and years.

It was only a matter of time before certain yard areas began to reek of continual cat poop so bad that some tenants couldn’t even sit outside or open their windows in comfort. Excessive flies followed. 

Removing the daily messes made things personal and the once-admirable feral cats became a hateful thing to many. Legitimate complaints were made, hard feelings felt, and soon — it will hit the fan.

Yes, a hurricane and a few cat abusers left our island with a problem, but it was a relatively small problem that has since grown huge, hateful, and out of control with the help of a lot of misguided compassion and counter-productive help.

How sad it is that all the cats the cat lovers have worked so hard to defend, befriend, fatten-up and save will very likely end up worse off than before they started getting all the loving help. 

So, if you really want to help the feral cats, do not feed them!

•••

R. Dean is a resident of Kapaa.

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