A few weeks ago, I met a stray cat.
She was wandering around campus late at night, and though many people passed by, she couldn’t seem to leave me alone. I noticed she had the tip of her ear clipped off, and some sort of minor infection in her eye. I might have let her wander if it hadn’t been for that infection.
Instead, I kept her safe and took her to the shelter.
I learned that the infection was easily fixable. I also learned that the nick in her ear was intentional, showing that she had been spayed. She had no collar, traces of what I thought to be mange and was incredibly thin. I was relieved to have found her when I did.
She wasn’t, however, the first stray cat I’d met in Emporia, and she wasn’t the last. Just a few days later, I saw another one trailing a couple walking through the campus parking lot.
The case of this particular cat is hardly an isolated one. Anyone who has spent time walking through the neighborhoods around campus, or even campus itself, can attest to the large population of stray cats around town.
At first, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Who doesn’t like to meet a cat on their morning walk? But stray cats have an immense effect on the ecosystem through which they wander. All across the United States, they’re killing millions of birds and small animals, becoming feral and hunting entire populations of winged and land-crawling beasts alike.
The solution lies with the source of the problem – humans – that release their pets into “the wild” suburban streets, will give a stray affection and nothing else, or who may simply be too careless to keep their pets safe.
In Emporia, at least, we can start to craft a solution.
If you find yourself unable to care for your cat, take them to the local animal shelter or find an alternative owner. Keep close eye on your cat – don’t allow them to wander off and potentially get lost, or give them a collar so they can be easily identified.
And, if you should pass by a stray cat, don’t simply let them go. If they’re friendly enough, take them to the shelter. If the stray is feral or unfriendly, have animal control take them to the shelter.
I love meeting stray cats, but I’d love it even more if I didn’t meet so many.