There's been a lot of discussion on community cats as well as pets. Some people like the forum writer Tan Tuan Khoon seem to feel the two are the same when they clearly are not.
So should pets and community animals really be treated differently? I believe so. The reason obviously is that in terms of a pet, or companion animal, someone has decided to take this animal in, assume responsibility and will care for it. I would say it's similar to adopting a child - you can't then decide to let the child run riot without supervision because the child wasn't yours originally, or abandon the animal or child when you get tired of the responsibility.
On the other hand, community cats are on the street - no one 'owns' them. What they do have are a group of caregivers who are helping to take care of them. They help sterilise them, feed them, clean up responsibly and help to ensure they don't cause problems.
Now the problem arises usually when the boundaries between the two cross - for example, it's often the case that a home owner will allow a pet to roam, and this pet then defecates outside someone else's home. Then the community cat gets blamed. We've seen this played out time and again.
We can argue that people should get over their fear of pets, or community cats - but for some people that fear is deep-rooted. It doesn't necessarily mean that everyone frightened of cats or dogs want them killed (I used to be frightened of cats but I never wanted them to be killed), but here both community cat caregivers and pet owners can play an important role.
By choosing to feed somewhere more unobtrusive, it brings less attention to the cats - and will also mean the cats are less likely to run into people who are frightened of them.
Pet owners can remember to leash their dogs - and here's a thing that irks me no end, keep their cats in! If you know that the cat is defecating outside a neighbour's home, or there is a chance they might and you KNOW your neighbours are not okay with it, why would people not keep their cats in? I just heard of a case I tried to mediate with and the cat owner in this case refuses to keep her cats in. Her cats have been caught, sent to the AVA, she had them released and she still releases them. Why take the risk seriously?
Do I think her neighbour was right to trap and send her cats in to the AVA? Of course not. But knowing that her neighbour is doing this, why not keep the cats in? The neighbour complains that her cats are defecating in their garden - and she claims they do not, but as long as the cats are let out, this argument will never end.
It doesn't mean she can't continue to pursue whatever courses of action are available to her - but at the same time, keep your cat safe - and indoors! What happens if you're too late one day and your cat is killed? All the outrage in the world is not going to bring your cat home.