In response to New York Daily News’ article Battle in the Garden from Saturday, January 10th about two sterilized feral cats, Clarence & Betty who are at risk of injury or death because of intolerant attitudes towards feral and stray cats in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn ECC fired off a letter to the Daily News to display our dismay that intolerance is trumping compassion towards our feral feline neighbors. Our letter reads:
The controversy surrounding two feral cats eking out a life in a community garden in Brooklyn and their kind caretaker (“Battle in the garden,” 1/10/2009) is a sad commentary about human intolerance and indifference to homeless cats. The Prospect Heights Community Garden gardeners should be ashamed of themselves for trying to evict two feral cats in the dead of winter.
Clarence and Betty, have been vaccinated, spayed and neutered so they can no longer reproduce, and are fed regularly by a generous person. These cats were born on the street and are unsocialized to humans, and are not candidates for adoption. They have nowhere good to go.
Forcibly removing the cats will not only end with feline suffering, injury or premature death, but will not solve the community garden’s alleged problem with their presence. Prospect Heights, like most areas in Brooklyn, has a large stray cat population. It is very likely that new stray cats – ones who aren’t sterilized, will fill the void left by Clarence and Betty’s absence. Traditional solutions such as extermination or “relocation” have proven themselves to be ineffective. The compassionate, rational method practiced by the caretaker has proven its effectiveness time and again in more ways then assuaging the irritations of intolerant people.
The people of the community garden would do well to learn compassion and tolerance for others by finding ways to co-exist with cats. That’s a solution we could all live with – especially Clarence and Betty.
For Clarence & Betty, and the other cats who will inevitably move into the garden if Clarence and Betty are removed, we can only hope that the Prospect Heights Community Garden’s gardeners change their tune about what we – the species who caused the companion animal overpopulation crisis – owe feral cats.