We suspect there was a cat in our rescued terrier’s former life because he adores felines. Like a shy teenaged boy smitten by girls, he approaches them awkwardly, if sincerely, and doesn’t understand why his love often goes unrequited. There is, however, one neighborhood cat that will meet him on the sidewalk, offer a playful swipe of its paw, then loll around on its back or rub against my ankles. Cute.
“I’d have a house full of these things if I could,” declares Caren Anderson of Chattanooga, who had stopped by the McKamey cat adoption room Thursday afternoon “just to give them love.” A dog fancier, I was there to learn more about cats. They, too, were curious about me, sniffing at the camera and pawing my notebook to see what I had been up to. When I dropped down on all fours to take a picture of their social grooming habits, a solitary, cheeky one leapt onto my back.
So, would you like to keep a cat? McKamey has them and right now the adoption fee is a mere $20 for one or for two. All are tested for FIV/FeLV, vaccinated, microchipped and either spayed or neutered. Anderson recommends the double shot. “These are probably the cheapest way of going if you have a pet. Ten dollars feeds both of mine for two months. When you’re gone they have each other. They are perfect for people who work a lot of hours. They don’t chew on anything, but you will need a scratching post.”
Cats who do not lead such pampered lives often face a different reality. “Ferals, the first generation offspring of abandoned cats, are wild and it’s almost impossible to adopt out an animal like that,” explains McKamey’s Amy Osborn. “My program is Trap, Neuter and Release. When we get calls from people who report nuisance cats, I try to talk them into TNR. If a person is willing to feed a colony, McKamey will lend the traps and charge $25 for each spay/neuter surgery, de-worming, and rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations.”
That may sound like a lot of effort versus outright removal, but the rewards are many, according to Alley Cat Allies, whose website explains that even if feral cats are removed from an area, surviving neighbors will over breed to repopulate it. After all, it must have been an attractive spot to call home in the first place. The TNR solution yields a stable population of better-behaved cats. “Once an animal is spayed or neutered, it becomes more docile, less feral and a better neighbor all round,” says Osborne. “We know several people who have barns full of mice. They take these cats and give them a home.”