Stray cats surviving on the city streets are more or less like convicts on death row – eventually something will put them down. I might be a car, a storm drain, a poisoned dinner some old lady placed next to the garbage bin. It might even be the actual garbage bin that will serve as their death bed, as it is quite common that while they’re looking for food, the truck passes by to collect the garbage and the guy simply doesn’t notice them – or even if he does, he simply couldn’t care less. For a male cat, it could a fight with another male, and for a female one…oh, I don’t even know where to begin. You see, the females have the privilege of giving birth too, and when giving birth on the street, the things that can go wrong are just too many – and this is the main reason why females are always a priority when we TNR.
So what is TNR? The letters stand for Trap – Neuter – Return. Why return, and not keep until a forever home is found? The answer is one: because they are simply too many. Stray cats in Greece are like the stars in the sky. And that is a fact. Returning a cat on the street is never an easy choice, and when it comes to making the public understand why we do it, it a difficult task. So we get that question a lot – like with the kitten from the storm drain for example- “why didn’t you keep it? What kind of rescue was that?” The answer is one: because all those cats have nowhere, absolutely nowhere to be placed.
So why neuter? Why go to all that trouble, waste hours of our precious time, set the trap, wait for the cat to walk into it, move the cat from the trap to a cat carrier, take her to the vet, pay for the surgery, and then waste even more time the next day, take the cat from the vet, put her in the car, drive back to her colony and release her very carefully? The answer is one, again: We neuter because we love them.
We neuter because we have already adopted as many cats as possible. Because we foster as many as we can. Because we have to go through the unpleasant procedure of deciding which cat to keep and which to return every day. Because we receive hundreds of calls and emails every day about a litter of kittens abandoned in a box somewhere, a cat hit by a car, a cat that lost her sight, her tail, her legs. Every single day.
We neuter because we know that the more they are, the more dangers they face every day. The more they are, the less quality of a life they get on the street. The more they are, the more they annoy the neighbors and the more likely it is that the will be mistreated, poisoned or left unfed. We neuter because we keep rescuing male cats with horrific wounds, caused mainly in a battle for the neighborhoods female. Because we’ve raised too many kittens with feeding bottles.
We neuter because we’ve seen female cats run over by cars, with their breasts swollen implying that somewhere a couple of kittens will be waiting for a meal to come, until the starve to death. Because we spend at least an hour per day feeding the stray cats in our colony, and every day we do it with our fingers crossed, hoping that they will all be there again today, and not under the wheels of a car.
There is this common misunderstanding among the public, that charities are overneutering and eventually cats will go extinct. If you believe something like that is even possible, you simply don’t know the numbers. It takes only one non neutered female to have thousands of descendants within a couple of years. So stray cats can definitely not go extinct. They simply can’t. And even so, when that time comes, we’ll know what to do. We’re the ones who spend time, money and effort for the well being of those souls, so we’re the last people on earth that would wish for something like this to happen.
So if we don’t like what we see in the photos – and I believe none of us does, there is one way to reduce the suffering on the streets, and this is by doing our best to have less and less cases of cats suffering every day. Keeping a steady population that can be better monitored is crucial. So we’ll keep neutering as often as we can, and hopefully, one day, we can spare a few hours per day to go shopping or something (ok, that was an exaggeration).