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Leader promotes cold plan for stray cats in Massena: Let them starve


Massena Supervisor Joseph D. Gray has a plan to solve the feral cat problem in his town: Starve the animals to death.

It’s hard for me to even type that idea in a sentence. I can’t imagine being able say it out loud.

Mr. Gray doesn’t have the same reservations.

He wants people to quit feeding feral cats so they will die slow, agonizing deaths.

Problem solved.

Child obesity is also an issue in the north country. I surely hope no one asks Mr. Gray for his thoughts on how to solve that problem.

I would call the supervisor a buffoon, but I don’t want to insult all the people who manage to be clowns without being cruel.

Starvation is not an acceptable solution to any problem – be it feral cats or fat children.

At least not in a humane society.

Mr. Gray’s cold rationalization for starving stray cats to death is that they die early and young even when people do feed them regularly. But apparently they are not dead early or young enough for Mr. Gray.

Starvation as a problem-solving tool would be reprehensible if proposed by a mentally disturbed person. That a sane elected public official came up with the idea makes it reprehensible and unbelievable.

Mr. Gray came to the conclusion that there is a serious feral cat problem in Massena based on the observation that he sees an average of three a night when he takes his dog for a car ride.

How’s that for science? He sees three a night. Somehow he determines they are wild. Conclusion: We got a problem, Massena.

And this problem creates three more that he cited: cat-damaged lawns and outdoor property; the potential for health concerns – such as rabies; the costs incurred by the town to capture and control these wild animals.

I see three cats a night in my yard in Canton, but unlike Mr. Gray, I make the leap that they belong to one of my neighbors.

I could just as easily determine them to be feral. I could just as easily determine them to be a problem.

That doesn’t make any those determinations valid. Guessing is not a good way to come to a definitive conclusion.

In any event, I’ve not been able to chart any property damage that I can tie to these cats on the loose. The closest I’ve come is spotting some cat hairs left on a cushion of one of my lawn chairs. I suppose one of the potentially rabid beasts must have needed a nap during its reign of terror.

To be fair to cats of all stripes, all mammals are “potentially” rabid beasts. All mammals. Even town supervisors. That they can be rabid doesn’t make them rabid.

Rabid cats in my memory have not been a problem in St. Lawrence County. Mr. Gray’s suggestion to starve wild cats makes him the first supervisor to show signs of rabid behavior. I am not in favor of starving him, either.

If the supervisor perceives there is a problem caused by the number of stray cats in his town, he needs to do more than drive around in his car asking his dog which ones are pets and which are feral to confirm his suspicions. Dogs, when it comes to cats, are notoriously biased.

He needs to figure out a way to do a census to determine if his anecdotal evidence is on the mark. He might find that his dog steered him wrong and the feral cat problem is smaller than he thinks.

But if he confirms his and his dog’s guesses that feral cats are a problem, the next step would be to figure out a proper way to solve it.

Maybe the answer is for him to lead the charge for people to spay and neuter their cats – their pets and the ones considered wild. Maybe he can lead the charge to have fundraisers to get the cash to fund spay and neuter programs. Maybe he can lobby veterinarians to do mobile spay and neuter work pro bono.

As an elected official whose name is well known in the community, he has clout that he could use to help curb the problem if it exists.

Trying to spark a campaign to starve feral cats is not the responsible way to handle the problem. It’s not the proper way to use his clout.

I’ve met Mr. Gray and know he is not a mentally disturbed and rabid man. He would do well to stop sounding like one.

There are positive things Mr. Gray can do to reduce the number of unwanted cats in his neighborhood.

The first step he can take is losing the idea that starving animals to death is a good, acceptable plan.

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