Cats are ubiquitous in Israel. You can’t pass a street without crossing paths with them. There are so many cats that Israel’s Veterinary Services have no estimate of their numbers except to say there are thousands of them.
In the US, there are 70 million feral cats whereas there are only 2 million feral cats in Israel. So how exactly can we say cat overpopulation is a problem that exists in Israel? Well, Israel is quite a smaller country than the US and also the population of Israel is way too less than that of the US. In that sense, there is one feral cat in Israel for every 4 people whereas there is one feral cat in the US for every 47 people. In fact, Israel is said to be the country having the highest feral cats to the human population ratio.
Feeding cats in Israel is a rising problem. The country’s warm climate and inadequate garbage collection services give strength to a feral cat to survive another day. In the cities, you can easily see cats soliciting scraps in outdoor cafes, and roaming the streets at night, combing through open refuse containers in search of a discarded crust of bread or anything edible. Feral cats there are on the edge of survival and live long enough to reproduce and put themselves in a never-ending, short cycle of birth, suffering, and painful death.
Where Do Feral Cats Come From?
Feral cats are the offspring of indoor pet cats whose parents failed to spay or neuter them and who abandoned them eventually. These cats then reproduced and never lived with humans in their houses. Some of the traits of feral cats are not trusting humans easily, elusive, and difficult to be captured.
The matter of fact is, these cats are still domestic animals and can’t fend for themselves, unlike wild animals. An indoor companion cat can live more than 17 years whereas studies conducted on the US feral cats say, feral cats without responsible caregivers live an average of 2 to 5 years.
What Would The Life of Feral Cats Be Like Without Human Intervention?
Feral cats do not die of old age. Without proper care and nourishment, they die slowly and painfully due to their injuries and variety of diseases. A scratch from a fight or a cut from the lid of the garbage can she was looking for food in can turn into an abscess. Urinary tract infections in males can lead to severe blockages and result in lingering deaths.
If a cat gets infected with a herpes virus and doesn’t get treated soon, it can cause blindness. This virus is contagious. Cats blind in one or both the eyes are not uncommon on the streets of Israel.
Another factor that reduces the lifespan of the cats on streets is dehydration in hot summers when the temperature can soar to over 38 degrees and there is no rain for months at a time. Lack of nutrition weakens their teeth, making it difficult to eat and ultimately that leads to death. Car accidents, other people, and cruel people can also inflict fatal wounds.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), feline leukemia (FeLV), and Feline Infectious peritonitis (FIP) are some of the diseases which can result in a matter of grave for them. Moreover, these diseases are contagious to other cats. It is important to note that these diseases cannot spread in humans. A natural death for cats on streets never is easy, quick, and painless. Cats, like all animals, including humans, need medical facilities, nourishment, and a home to live longer.
How Can The Population of Feral Cats Be Controlled?
Feral cat population control is not as easy as it might seem. It’s an emotional issue and a topic of debate. Municipal officials believe that a high population of cats endangers human life. They believe that trapping and euthanizing them is humane because of their otherwise inevitable short dreadful life on the streets without caregivers. On the other hand, some animal organizations and animal shelters in the US and abroad take the stand that leaving cats to fend for themselves on streets as well as euthanizing is inhumane.
They believe that there should be some non-lethal methods to control the feral cat population.
Wildlife organizations complain that cats are a danger to wildlife as they kill large numbers of birds, small mammals, and other wildlife. So considering all the angles to view in this situation, there is no one way true to control the population of feral cats.
Most animal and pet shelters do not facilitate proper house to feral cats and do not have facilities to test them for contagious diseases, and socialize them to get them a forever home. The sad thing is that feral cats are among those 6 million animals being euthanized in the US shelters every year.
Some groups in Israel trap cats, alter them (spaying and neutering), and release them. Clara Lou from CatLovesBest says that altering is beneficial to many cats because it can stop the population from exploding and will stop spreading the contagious diseases to some extent. That said, TNR programs and other efforts being made by different organizations are trying to cope up with the rising population and making feral cats’ well-being on the streets differently. As a cumulative effect, it seems that stray cats definitely are going to have a better life on the streets of Israel.
The rising population of feral cats in Israel is a real problem and needs better solutions for controlling their population and giving them a better life than they are having. There are a few laws from the Government of Israel to sustain and balance the ill effects of the harsh life of feral cats on streets. Moreover, there are some people who go beyond being called animal lovers and feed stray cats every day. They leave their home with a bag full of cat food and help to trap cats for TNR programs. Let’s hope that feral cats will have a good fortune and live happily on streets with the help of all the humans making efforts to make their life better.