Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why do people feed?

I was out just now and met someone who asked me what I did. I explained that I used to be with CWS and what it was CWS set out to achieve. He also got a little history on TNRM :)

This man not unexpectedly, told me that there were two feeders near his home. He said that they left a trail of food after 10 pm and asked if feeding was illegal. It seems they don't pick up afterward.

The interesting thing is that this man asked why people feed? I told him at the time that some people feed because they're compassionate, some may feed because they're lonely and enjoy the cats' companionship. He seemed satisfied with my abbreviated answer, but as I went home, I thought more about it and realised that there are so many more reasons why people do feed - probably every one has a different reason. Some people feed for merit, some because they came across some cats one day and felt sorry for them. Some people have started and can't stop now because the cats depend on them.

I think feeding hungry cats just hits a nerve somewhere deep down and makes most people want to alleviate the hunger - of course some critics will say that there are hungry people out there too, but you don't often see them wandering the streets. Here's the thing - I bet if most feeders saw a hungry person on the street, they would help feed the person too if they could.

On the other hand, feeding on its own, just to alleviate hunger doesn't solve the wider and bigger problem - that of reproduction. It doesn't solve the problem of complaints - and that's where TNRM has to come in. The minute the cats have better nutrition, the more likely they are to breed more often and have more kittens - and that leads to complaints. Feeding is a huge and really important component of TNRM - but it cannot be the only component or the cats are more likely to be in danger than ever before. That's something all the food in the world is not going to help with.


Chinky said...

"We must expand the circle of our compassion to encompass all creatures." - Albert Einstein

It is "easier" to empathise when we experience for ourselves the suffering of hunger or thirst. When i see a cat lapping up water, i felt my own thirst quenched.
It is easier to be kind to our family members, then our friends, then our neighbours, and of course our pets. But is this as far as kindness goes? Is this the limit of our capacity in exhibiting compassion?

Some of us like myself, have the "privilege" of living with dogs and cats and we learn from our own experience, that each dog and each cat is an individual, with distinctive personality. From this love of our home companions, we extend this empathy to the strays.

Perhaps if important decision makers have this experience of living with cats, perhaps we would become a more humane society, with
"sterilisaton saves lives" than killing to save complaints!

Dawn said...

Well said Chinky - this man though was vegetarian because he doesn't believe in hurting animals. Yet he seemed to genuinely find it strange that people would feed cats.

auntie p said...

Perhaps the man assumed that the stray cats would be able to find food on their own, so it didn't occur to him that they needed feeding by people.

I like what Chinky said about having lived with cats, we understand and see each cat with its own distinct character. Such an understanding will lead to more empathy and love for the cats (strays or otherwise) and other animals, although for some folks, it does not necessarily lead to love for other species of animals, like dogs, chincillas, etc. and vice versa.