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Tag: Feral Cat

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-headshot

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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Short Stories: The Man and Cat Behind the Dumpster

feral kitten 2

Several weeks ago, my wife, Polly, and I drove to Defiance to eat dinner at Sweetwater Chophouse. Prior to our reservation time, Polly drove our car through the car wash and then we headed over to Goodwill to drop off unwanted clothing and household goods. We are in the process of de-junking our home, getting rid of unused or unwanted “stuff.” If we had just collected everything for a few months, we could have had a yard sale this summer, but we just want the stuff gone, so every week or so we drop clothing and household items off at Goodwill in Defiance or Bryan, or take things to Care and Share, a Mennonite resale shop in Archbold. We prefer to use Care and Share, but sometimes it’s closer and easier to drop things off at the local Goodwill stores.

As we pulled around to the back of the Defiance Goodwill, we noticed a pick-up truck sitting next to a dumpster for Fricker’s — a sports bar. We noticed an old man, my age or slightly older, feeding a young feral cat. It was evident the man had spent time with this cat before. The cat was hesitant, as all feral cats are, but with a little coaxing, the old man got the cat to come to him and eat food out of a can. After the cat was finished eating, the man gingerly picked him up, took a tube of medicine out of his pocket, and put some antibiotic cream on the cat’s lame leg.

I wept as I watched this man patiently, kindly, and lovingly care for the least of these. I asked Polly to drive me up to the dumpster so I could speak to the man. I rolled down my window and said to him, “thank you.” He told that he had been caring for the cat since April 2021. Originally, there were four kittens, but only this one was left. He lamented the fact that the other cats were gone, likely dead.

feral kitten

Small acts of kindness to the least of these, be they humans or animals. Our family has been feeding local feral cats (and non-feral cats, raccoons, possums, skunks, grackles, and starlings) with cat food put on a plate inside a fiberglass doghouse for fifteen years. Why? Because, through no fault of their own, these cats face suffering and deprivation. The least we can do for them is provide food, water, and a place to get out of the cold.

Over the years, we have fed and cared for dozens of feral cats. Some we see once or twice, others visit our backyard for months or several years. Rarely do the cats let us touch them, but Bethany, our daughter with Down syndrome, has a knack for befriending them. Some of the cats will run to her when she is outside, rubbing against her leg or even letting her pet them. I suspect the cats sense that Bethany is not a threat to them.

Life presents us with small, insignificant opportunities to lessen harm for both humans and animals alike. Yet, far too often, we are so absorbed with “self” that we don’t pay attention to those in need around us.

Pay attention, and do what you can . . .

bruce-gerencser-headshot

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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

I Killed the Kittens With a Hammer, Says a Local Evangelical Farmer

feral cats in barn-008
Barn cats at my Son and Daughter-in-law’s Farm

As Polly and I wrapped up our 25-year tour of duty pastoring churches, we began looking for a church home. I had pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio from 1997 to 2002, and after leaving the church, we attended — for a short time — an Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) church in Butler, Indiana. The congregation was not, itself, much to write home about, but we dearly loved the pastor and his family. After attending for a few months, we decided that we would join the church, only to find out that we couldn’t do so because we weren’t Dispensational and Premillennial. That’s right, we couldn’t join because of our eschatology. Such is the fracturing nature of Christian Fundamentalism. We soon left, looking for friendlier confines. The pastor and his wife — by now friends — were, as we were, disappointed. We felt, at the time, that we couldn’t in good conscience attend a church that wouldn’t accept as members. The church later closed its doors and the pastor and his family moved on to a new ministry. I can find no record of him online after 2008.

While I could tell many stories about our time at this church (good, bad, and funny), one stands out above all others. One Sunday morning we were sitting around a table in the fellowship hall swapping stories. Somehow, the subject of cats came up. Now, I am a cat lover. We have always had at least one cat, and have had as many as three. Currently, we are down to one: a fat, lazy yellow ten-year-old cat named Joe Meower. We regularly feed the neighborhood’s feral cats, hopefully providing them a bit of respite from the cruelty inflicted upon them by thoughtless humans.

As we talked about cats, an aged farmer decided to share a story about his barn cats. One of his cats had recently given birth to a litter of kittens. I thought, how nice this man is to take care of these feral cats and their offspring. I quickly learned, however, this man was anything but nice. Not that he was peculiar. Lots of Jesus-loving, God-fearing locals are quite cruel to animals. Some of the most cruel people I know are the local Amish. I asked the man how the kittens were doing. Oh, he chuckled, I killed them. I got a hammer out and smacked each one of them in the head! I quickly felt my face becoming flush as rage filled my mind. I thought, you could have given the kittens away, or better yet, you could have had your female barn cats spayed. Instead, his cruel hands picked up a hammer and he beat them to death.

I quickly exited the fellowship hall, fearing that I was going to have a “Bruce moment.” My rage passed, but I have not forgotten that people who speak of the love of God can often be cruel and violent; that God commanding them to have dominion over the earth means that they can indiscriminately kill. In an anthropocentric world, man rules the roost. All other life only has the value given to it by its overlords. This is why this farmer could, as if he was telling a story about his grandchildren, share his murderous rampage with his fellow church members.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Bruce Gerencser