The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 2, 2013

Mahoning Township cat ordinance

The Daily Item

— Had a vote been taken Nov. 18 at the Mahoning Township meeting, feeding a cat outdoors would be prohibited. The real issue was more about a neighborhood squabble than a health and safety concern as stated in the ordinance. The proposal targets feral cats whose greatest crime is digging in flower beds, scattering dirt on a patio, and having smelly urine.

For those grave injustices no one will be allowed to feed them, so they will be left to starve to death. No one talked about what it’s like to die by starvation. I doubt anyone at that meeting even knows what it’s like to go hungry for more than a few hours.

If the ordinance is passed, how will it be enforced? Should we use our limited resources and manpower by having the police look for anyone feeding feral cats or might it be better to have the police patrolling the community for drug dealers?

Deer ate everything in my garden this summer. They chewed on the bushes, mowed down the flowers, and ate the needles off the evergreen trees. They probably carried ticks into the yard. Then they left piles of feces for my dogs to roll in. But despite my frustration, it never occurred to me to want to kill them. As a living thing, don’t they have a right to live even if I don’t like all their behaviors?

Wild animals (including feral cats) are losing their habitats, and moving closer to our property. If we begin eliminating feral cats it won’t be long before someone finds fault with other animals, like squirrels. I could say that I’m tired of them eating the food from my bird feeders. I’ll target birds next even though I really like them, but dropping feces on my car is annoying. And rabbits do a pretty good job of raiding my garden and flowers, too. It’s obvious that this way of thinking is ridiculous. I could find fault with anybody or anything if I put my mind to it.

Have we lost our compassion and become such an intolerant society that smelly cat urine is reason enough to give them a slow, painful death through starvation? Why are people so reluctant to try the trap-spay-release program that has been proven effective?

Most concerning to me was a comment I heard from a woman as she was leaving the meeting. “Sure, I’ll help trap cats,” she said with a smile, then lowered her voice before adding, “but I won’t say what I’m going to do to them after that.” It’s a chilling thought. That kind of thinking makes me nervous.

In the scheme of life, when there are so many other issues to worry about, does it really matter that much if a cat scatters a little dirt on a patio? If it matters that much, please consider working with the local and state organizations who offered their help and expertise at the meeting. Let your conscience be your guide.

Lori Sandahl,