Imagine, it’s dinnertime at the Hawaii Kai Park and Ride. A colony of feral cats comes calling when their feeders arrive with food in tow. Scenes like this are played out on a daily basis across the state.
Cat feeding — or the feeding of other predators, like dogs, rats, and mongoose — would be against the law punishable by fine starting at $100 and up to $1000 for repeat offenses.
However, the Hawaiian Humane Society opposes the plan.
“We don’t think this is very humane approach. What the DLNR is saying is that they don’t want any feeding of any cats, which would starve them to death,” said Mary Steiner, with the Hawaiian Humane Society.
“We are not condemning these cats to starvation. We want to have them handled as humanely as possible,” said Joshua Atwood.
That is at the heart of the dispute — what some see as cruel, others see as compassionate.
“We also want to stress that the status quo or doing nothing is not humane either because these cats do impact our native wildlife,” said Atwood.
Atwood points to eight deaths of Hawaiian monk seals which he claims were linked to toxoplasmosis, a parasite found only in cat feces.
He also pointed out that the disease is a threat to endangered native birds like the Nene, the Hawaiian duck and Alala, the Hawaiian crow.
The bill would not affect cat feeding on private lands, but it would target state or public property instead.
The bill also stands to affect the cat colony at the University of Hawaii campus in Manoa. It installed cat houses eight years ago in an effort to manage the feral cat population there.
“The University has a great program, registers cats, caregivers and feeders that have rules to follow, and that program seems to work,” said Steiner.
The idea is that the colony managed on the concept of trap, neuter and release would eventually die off.
But Atwood disagrees and says the program isn’t as successful as some might think. He “claims” DLNR would work to help relocate cat colonies to private land or to have the cats adopted or placed in shelters.
Euthanasia — or killing the feral cats — would be a last resort, he added.
Both sides do support funding education programs about pet abandonment and the environmental threats they pose.
If you ask us here at The Best Cat Page, Mr. Atwood, it seems you’re just another cat hater with some sort of pull. Perhaps your “rank” is the only thing you’ve got that’s big enough to pull?