October 29 is National Cat Day. From their gentle purrs to their crazy rambunctious antics, they bring a smile to our faces. And do you want to hear some good news? People have thought that on Halloween, Oct. 31, outdoor cats are abused more than on other days of the year. Turns out there's no real evidence that that's true.
But here's the bad news: although we love cats, many people don't. That's why we can't look away when, even in 2023, stray and feral cats continue to be the victims of random, brutal attacks by cruel people. We need to know what's happening, and why, in order to find ways to help. Caution: these stories can be painful to read.
Random Attacks on Stray Cats: Vulnerable Victims
In August of this year, Santana the cat suffered the terrible pain of having been shot by a bow and arrow, and had the arrow lodged into his side for 24 hours. Michigan police found the stray cat and brought him to the vet for lifesaving surgery. Despite both of his lungs collapsing, he made a full recovery before being placed for adoption. The local shelter offered a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible, but so far the perpetrator has not been found.
And in July of this year, a family from Pensacola, Florida, with 4 cats of their own, was devastated to find that a local stray cat who they had been feeding and had nicknamed "Little Friend" had been burned to death. According to the family, a neighbor's Ring doorbell camera showed neighborhood teens committing this crime, but as of this writing, no one has been arrested.
As you know, globally, hundreds of millions of stray and feral cats are suffering on the streets without having a safe home or the love and care of a guardian. But living on the streets also makes them vulnerable to the most sickening incidents of abuse.
Why Stray and Feral Cats Are Susceptible to Harm
Lack of Protection: Unlike house cats, stray and feral cats don't have the security of a home. Their defenselessness and availability make them easy targets for people who want to hurt them.
Lack of Laws: In many countries around the world, there are few to no laws protecting stray cats from abuse. Even in the U.S., protections can be limited. In South Dakota, for example, a person can be charged with killing or poisoning a cat only if that cat has a guardian.
Trust and Fear: Cats are curious creatures. Some strays, especially those previously socialized to humans, may approach people in search of food or affection. This trust or desperation can be exploited by cruel people.
Overpopulation and Societal Attitudes: In areas where cat overpopulation is an issue, cats are often viewed as pests. This devaluation can lead some to justify cruelty, as they consider stray animals to be a threat.
Anonymity of the Perpetrator: Urban and semi-urban environments offer anonymity. Individuals might feel they can hurt or kill a stray without being seen or held accountable.
Consequences of Cruelty
Physical and Emotional Trauma: The immediate effect of abuse is physical pain. But, like all animals, cats can also suffer from psychological trauma, leading to behavioral issues and a deep-seated fear of humans.
Health Issues: Attacks can lead to untreated injuries, infections, and other health problems, further reducing the already slim chances of survival for a stray or feral cat.
Erosion of Human Morality: Accepting or ignoring cruelty to animals numbs our society's collective conscience. It's a short step from harming animals to showing aggression towards other humans. In fact, research has found that 16% of people who abuse animals end up harming humans as well.
What Can We Do?
Advocate for stronger anti-cruelty laws, and when incidents of cruelty happen, demand that local officials enforce these laws.
Humane Education should be taught in school as well as at home. Tell your local officials to include it in the curriculum, starting in elementary school, so that children learn from an early age that animals have feelings and should be treated with compassion and respect.
Report Cruelty: If you witness cruelty towards animals, report it.
Foster or Adopt: If you're in a position to do so, consider fostering or adopting a stray. It's one of the most direct ways to save a life and give a cat the security they need.
Support Local Shelters and TNR Programs: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a humane approach to managing and reducing stray and feral cat populations. Supporting these initiatives can reduce the number of vulnerable cats on the streets.
Educate and Advocate: Raising awareness about the plight of stray and feral cats can change attitudes. By understanding the risks these animals face, communities may become more proactive in protecting them.
Taking a Stand for Vulnerable Stray Cats
Cats are incredible, emotional, complex beings deserving of compassion and care. Their vulnerability to cruelty is a stark reminder that we must be their protectors, advocates, and voice. By understanding the challenges they face and taking active steps to help, we can create safer, kinder communities for all.
Without a humane, permanent solution, hundreds of millions of cats will continue to be born into a world where they face brief lives of suffering and abuse. That’s why 600 Million Dogs is working to end the main cause of companion animal suffering: pet overpopulation.
Our nonprofit science-centered mission is to significantly reduce animal suffering on a global scale by developing a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats.
We hope you’ll support our mission!