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Emotions run hot on feral-cat issue

By Carla Browning

The matter of community cats brings emotional responses from both sides of the debate.

In response to a recent column on the topic, a commenter practically confessed to the premeditated and ongoing torture and murder of cats. This person even admits to luring cats from miles away with fish oil, like a Pied Piper of sorts.

One lady from Maryland wrote a very supportive, heartfelt letter educating people on the benefits of a humane solution to community cat population control. She cared enough to speak up and share her experience and opinion on the matter.

For me, the question of how we manage our community feline population elicits the same emotional response as when asked, “What is the best way to care for the underprivileged and neglected children of our community?”

Our approach to resolving either issue should be the same: We must come together. We must get informed on the issue and the resources available to us. We must develop a citizen-driven strategy and implement it by doing what we have agreed to do. And we must measure progress and address challenges until we reach our goal.

Regardless of the community need we are addressing, this is how to make a positive change. You don’t have to be a famous chef to cook a wonderful meal. You simply have to follow the renowned chef’s recipe.

Alley Cat Allies and other city shelter leaders across our nation have offered to provide us guidance and support as we begin this journey of making Suffolk a community where animals are only euthanized if they are suffering and have very little chance for a quality life.

Back to my initial question, “Why are emotions so heightened in response to a proposed humane solution to community cat population control?”

Intense emotions are tied to perceptions. If one’s perceptions are based on fear and misinformation, a strong reaction will occur. Awareness is the key to empowerment. Whether you have already had some positive experiences and feel informed on the issue or you are feeling strong negative emotions due to what I previously explained, come join us on Saturday to learn more about the issue.

Please join us at 10:30 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriot on Harbour View Boulevard as we begin a community-wide conversation to take action to help implement humane strategies to feline population control. A second meeting will be held that day at 1 p.m. at the Morgan Memorial Library on West Washington Street.

For those who are excited to get involved, this will be an opportunity to get plugged in and support this effort. For those who are feeling strong emotions around this issue, come get informed, learn more and suspend disbelief for a moment while we engage in a solution-focused conversation that will serve as a strong foundation for a positive and transformative movement in our great city.

Carla Browning is a Suffolk native and a 1990 Suffolk High School graduate. She is the founder and co-director of The Cat’s Meow Animal Rescue, which began in Los Angeles. Email her at info@thecatsmeowanimalrescue.org.