DEAR DR. FOX: You recently ran a letter about National Feral Cat Day, which is an insult to the domestic cat, our most popular beloved pet.
Forcing unadoptable cats to live and die outdoors through the misguided practice of trap-neuter-release (or abandon) rather than receive a quick, humane death is cruel and irrational. As the director of a cat shelter, I have witnessed too many who suffer miserably with prolonged deaths from parasite infestations or systemic infections from injuries or diseases transmitted by fleas and other animals. After one trip to the clinic for sterilization, these cats will never receive any palliative care for the many afflictions they may eventually acquire.
Cats do not belong on farms, where they can contaminate farm animals and vegetable crops with toxoplasmosis gondii oocysts -- spread via feces -- which they catch while hunting native wildlife, not just pest species.
Animal shelters were created to prevent cruelty to animals, not for people to do what makes them feel good. The true heroes are open-admission shelter staffs who make difficult but compassionate decisions for the sake of the animals while cleaning up the problems that irresponsible people leave behind. Love your cats by keeping them safe on your own property and away from wildlife.
I spent three months this past summer fighting the crazy "no-kill" people at town board meetings because they didn't approve of euthanizing feral cats instead of applying TNR to them. They basically spread lies about me stalking cats in backyards and taking peoples' cats! It was quite frightening. I came through with the help of my supporters and from three veterinarians. -- Gail Mihocko, Project Cat director, Accord, New York
DEAR G.M., I agree with you; communities endorsing TNR without question are undoubtedly betraying what I consider a sacred duty to care for cats and all creatures great and small. In most communities, releasing cats to live permanently outdoors is an abdication of responsibility for wildlife protection, public health and cats' welfare.
DEAR DR. FOX: I can relate to the reader who wrote about his two deceased dogs coming back to visit him. I, too, had that experience with my beloved black Labrador, King. He was 10 years old when he died last November.
About a week after he died, I was in my bedroom, crying. I looked out my window and saw a set of dog prints in the snow. I went outside. The gate was closed and had a lock on it. I opened it and saw dog prints; I followed them for about eight feet, right into the middle of my yard, where they just disappeared! I knew it was King, since no dog could possibly jump the fence, let alone leave paw prints that led to nowhere. I came in and had the most peaceful feeling ever, knowing my King was still here with me. -- P.C., St. Charles, Missouri
DEAR P.C.: Many skeptical readers, the latter-day doubting Thomases of instrumental rationalism, will have something to think about when they read your account of your beloved dog's communication with you after life. I have added your letter to the many that I have received to my website DrFoxVet.net, under "Animal Spirits." This subject is important because it adds a dimension to understanding the nature of reality, where perception is reality and seeing is believing! Letters on this very personal subject from other readers are always welcome.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)