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MARTHA SEZ: Feral cats of Newfoundland

December 20, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Thanks to the gift of unlimited randomness bestowed upon us by the Internet, I have just been reading this morning's Western Star, a newspaper published in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. I watched a little video of the residents of this town, which looks very pretty, digging out from an inundation of snow, which I assume is typical there at this time of year. Then I started reading about the feral cat problem in nearby Parsons Pond.

Apparently, the Western Star has been regularly reporting on these cats, and people have been writing in with their opinions as to what to do about them.

Some proposed a program to spay and neuter the cats while keeping them fed, thus preventing them from becoming diseased and engaging in nuisance behavior, like getting into garbage cans and fighting among themselves.

"I am a resident of Parsons Pond," wrote another reader, who chose to remain anonymous, "and I totally disagree with helping the cat colony. The only resolution is getting rid of all the cats. Otherwise our town will continue to have this feral cat problem."

The politics of feral cats! It does get people up in arms. In some cities, there are programs to trap feral cats, neuter them and return them to their colonies. Veterinarians who neuter the cats sometimes remove about a quarter inch from the tip of their left ears to show that they have been altered. This procedure could work in Florida or California, but I wonder how successful it would be in places like Newfoundland or the Adirondacks, where feral cats commonly lose their ear tips to frostbite.

In some communities, the neutered feral cats are fed and looked after. In many towns, however, according to the Humane Society, ordinances make it illegal to feed feral cats. Of course, there will always be those people who will do it anyway.

I believe feral cats prefer to be called "free-roaming cats."

Talk of what to do with homeless felines reminds me of an interview that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gave recently. He was talking about the 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers who will lose unemployment benefits Dec. 28 unless U.S. legislators grant an extension.

He believes, he said, that to extend benefits to the long-term unemployed is to "do a disservice to these workers. ... You're allowing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy."

Likewise, Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking of food stamps and other government subsidies to the poor, has often expressed concern that the social safety network will become a "hammock."

Am I saying that some politicians seem to think of the nation's poor the way some people think of feral cat colonies? Well, yes, I am. And here's something even more random and strange that I've observed over the years: Many of those who feel no obligation or inclination to help people who happen to be at this point in their lives - for whatever reason - to have fallen on hard times and are unable to make ends meet, who are ill or hungry or have no place to live, will nevertheless go out of their way to help cats, dogs, horses or perhaps whales, polar bears or elephants. Have you ever noticed that?

It's something to think about, anyway.

Last week, I was writing about songs that come to me out of the blue, some rapidly, others slowly, over a period of weeks, despite my paradoxical lack of musical ability. I didn't mention, though, that occasionally I think of jokes as well. I need help to finish the one I'm about to share with you. It has been knocking around in my head for years now, nagging me like a bad holiday tune that won't go away.

You may have heard of legendary Adirondack guide Jim Goodwin, who led his first group up Mount Marcy when he was only 12 years old and who died in 2011 at the age of 101.

You may also have heard of his son, Tony Goodwin, executive director of the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council.

All right, here's the joke, as far as it goes:

"We're going with Faisal as our guide."

"But Tony is a Goodwin!"

"Yes, but Faisal is a Bedouin."

Get it?

Any help with this joke will be greatly appreciated. I've got to get it out of my head.

Have a good week, and keep your ears warm.



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