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Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution

letter to the editor

Letter sent to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Defiance mayor Mike McCann recently shared his solution for the city’s feral cat problem: kill them. When offered other solutions for the problem, McCann dismissed them, saying it was simpler and cheaper to round up the cats and kill them.

Every community in Defiance County has a feral cat problem. Our family has been feeding Ney’s feral cat population for the past fifteen years. Countless cats have come through our yard, stopping to eat and drink. It’s the least we can do. We feel that caring for them is our moral duty. It is not their fault that they have no homes or humans that care for them. Why not go after the owner of these animals and hold them accountable for their behavior?

Years ago, I sat in a Sunday school classroom listening to a local farmer talk about one of his barn cats having kittens. With nary a thought, this aged farmer said, “I just got a hammer out and killed the kittens.” This man could have had his barn cats neutered or spayed or found homes for the kittens. Instead, he followed Mayor McCann’s way of thinking: kill them. It was cheaper, and less time-consuming, for him to brutally kill the kittens, without ever considering whether his actions were moral.

Cat owners should be required to license their animals, just as dogs are annually licensed. Owners should also be required to keep their cats inside or have them spayed. It is against the law for dogs to run free. Why is it any different for cats? People who abandon cats should be criminally prosecuted for animal abuse. If you are going to own an animal, their care is your personal responsibility for the life of the pet. Defiance County and local communities should establish a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Yes, caring for the least of these costs money, but if the goal is to reduce the feral cat population, then it seems right to invest the money necessary to make these things happen.

Saying “kill them” is the lazy way out. Cheap? Sure. But moral? Not a chance. Mayor McCann has done a lot of good things for Defiance. I commend him for his diligence in trying to move Defiance, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century. However, when it comes to his comments about feral cats, all I see is a farmer with a hammer.

Bruce Gerencser


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    Bruce. Excellent commentary on feral cats. All too many people think animal life is nothing more than “solid matter” that just “happens to move.” They see it as a brick that somehow moves. Wrong!!! A feral cat or kitten is one of God’s beautiful creations and full of life. Pet owners live longer. I wonder how many of these Defiance hammer slammers are Christian Fundamentalist and Conservative Evangelical right-to-lifers? What? Fetus life at 15 weeks is worthy of life but a cute, warm, already born kitten with all its senses is not? It’s just a “brick that moves?” Really? I’ll retire to Bedlam.

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    Yeah. Years ago Bryan came up with an ordinance that each cat owner had to tag their cat for $100, and if caught, get fined. Dr Pettigrew, one of our local vets, said this would do nothing to change the stray/feral cat population. We just feed the outside cats, and periodically find safer places for them. We live in a town of 8,000+, but our street is one of the main streets people drive through, and almost all the school buses. So it’s not safe.

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    One place with a large feral cat population that might surprise you, Disneyland, they help with all the mice problem. No fictional mice are harmed by the feral cats. 🙂

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      Seriously, if McCann caries out his plan, he may have cause to regret it. Cats make a huge contribution to keeping rodent and bird populations under control. That’s the main reason humans domesticated them. If he thinks cats are a problem, wait until the place is overrun with mice and no cats to control them.

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    Our neighborhood has a feral cat population. There’s an older couple who live a couple of blocks from us who feed the feral cats. My kids used to call this the “cat house” because when we walked past in the early evening, we would see dozens of cats in the yard enjoying cat food. These cats don’t bother us – in fact, they help reduce the population of mice in the area. We don’t mind putting out leftovers for the cats to enjoy.

    It’s interesting how fundamentalist Christians take the “we have dominion over the earth” to mean “It’s OK to wantonly kill the creatures and use earth’s resources because we’re superior and God said so and who cares because God is going to destroy the earth anyway so….”

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Feral cats roamed the grounds of an old workplace of mine. A few of my co-workers and I fed them and contributed to the cost of catching and neutering them. The head of security–an ailurophobe–objected, but our director approved: He realized the cats were keeping rats away.

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    So what’s wrong with trap-neuter-return? They tip the ears, they never get all of them, so there’s always a few breeding. I heard of a town along the Hudson River that managed to trade a feral cat colony for a substantial rat problem. Honestly, I’d keep the cats over the rats!

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    I agree with Autumn. Trap-neuter-return is what works. I have seen this on environment documenting TV programs, on the web, etc. Cats have territories so if you just kill a cat, another will move in. However if you neuter the cat it will defend it’s territory but once neutered cannot reproduce.

    We have 2 cats we love dearly. They do not go outside and we pay for their veterinary care.

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Barbara—Including my current Cuddler In Chief, I have had six cats. Five, including C in C, have been rescues.

    One great thing about them is that they didn’t believe irrational things—or try to convince me that I should believe them.

  9. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    This mayor is beyond repugnant ? Surely he HAS been told that spaying, trapping, returning-or adoptions, actually work ?? A campaign to school this person in decent behavior is needed. As in calling McCann out on a massive scale ! (I can’t comment by phone for some reason).

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Bruce Gerencser