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It's Not My Cat or Is It?

It is the time of year all shelters call Kitten Season.  We have a lot of people wanting to bring in a cat or litter of kittens.  We begin every conversation by gathering information on how long the cat has been around or how the litter of kittens appeared at their house.  “It’s not my cat” is something we hear a lot these days from people who want to bring us the cat or kittens right away and not wait for space to bring them in responsibly.   This is just an example of some real conversations we have had in the last few weeks…

LHS: “How long have you been feeding the cat?”
Caller: “About a year but it isn’t my cat.” 
Or we hear:  Caller: “these kittens were dumped on my front porch by someone”
LHS: “Have you seen any cats around?”
Caller: “Yes, a stray cat.”
LHS: “How long has the cat been around?” 
Caller: “I don’t know, about 8 months?” 
LHS: “Have you been feeding the cat? “
Caller: “Yes, but it’s not my cat. “ 
LHS: “That cat had kittens and dumped them on your porch because she was done caring for them.  So you need to get that cat fixed so she doesn’t keep having kittens, I see this is the third litter you have brought us. We can give you a free spay/neuter and rabies shot, when would you like to bring her in?”
Caller:  “But It’s not my cat.” 

In both scenarios this person is doing a good thing by feeding the cats but they need to take it one step further by trying to stop this cat from having kittens.  A lot of people don’t know what to do when a stray animal appears on their property so let’s start there. You should call the local shelter/pound and report the cat/dog as found.  Don’t just keep it thinking it is cute and you want a pet, someone might be looking for their lost pet.  In most cases with cats they have not wandered too far away from their home. Put up flyers in the neighborhood to make sure people know you found a pet and ask around your neighborhood.   What most people don’t understand is that in the city of Lynchburg’s ordinances it defines an owner: as any person who keeps or harbors a dog or cat or has it in his care, or who acts as its custodian, and any person who permits a dog or cat to remain on or about any premises occupied by him   So in their eyes, you are the animal’s owner when you begin to provide care.   Here at the Lynchburg Humane Society we don’t treat you like the owner if you have just started to feed a stray cat or dog that showed up and want to provide it care while you figure out what to do with the pet or you try and find their owners.  But when you continue to take responsibility for the animal and continue to provide care for the dog or cat months later…. Guess what?  It IS your pet.  

As far as cats are concerned there is no leash law in affect for them in the city so they are allowed to roam around free.  So we see more people feeding them and caring for them but they don’t feel they are their animals.   They are neighborhood cats.  All we need is one person to take responsibility and we will help them with the problem   The good news is most people will work with us but when someone does get belligerent and angry that we won’t just take in the problem that now exists right away we often wonder why we are more responsible than the person who has been feeding and caring for the cat for the last 8-12 months?   We must admit, it is a very frustrating thing for us.   All we want is to help them by fixing the cat for free and provide rabies shot so the kittens don’t continue to appear each year but so often the person won’t take that next step to fix the problem.  Or if they decide it is time to turn in the cat, they don’t want to be considered the owner and wait for an appointment.  We have even gone so far as to let people know that we can no longer be a resource for their kittens year after year in an effort to make them get the cat fixed so we stop being a dumping ground.   We have even offered to come out and trap the cat and transport it to our spay/neuter clinic all for free, but we have run into barriers because they still don’t want to acknowledge that it is their cat.  So they are afraid of giving us permission. 

In the end it doesn’t matter if the cat is yours or not.  We all need to be responsible for fixing the cat problem in Lynchburg.  Just feeding the cats is doing nothing to solve anything.  But getting the cats fixed and allowing them back into their neighborhood where they were living stops the kittens each year and helps reduce deaths and euthanasia in our shelter and other shelters in the area.    

To get involved in our spay/neuter efforts give us a call at 846-1438 and we can give you assistance right away!


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