When humans thoughtlessly abandon pet cats out on the street, thinking that they will be able to survive through coffeeshop table-scraps and the food from cat feeders, there is a total lack of understanding on what happens when a pet cat becomes a stray cat.
Firstly, cats are territorial. If the cats in the neighbourhood are sterilised, these resident strays will fight off newcomers if they are not sterilised. Which is often the case – owners adopt cats, then realise the cat is on heat and they ‘decide’ that sterilisation is a cost they don’t want to bear. Sterilisation is a must, and they did not think this through when they let a cat into their homes. If the community strays are not sterilised, tom-cats will fight off other tom-cats whom they see as competition as well.
Regardless, the abandoned cat is at a loss. Not recognising her scent on any part of this new territory, she withdraws into a cave of insecurity. Insecure cats either hide, or get aggressive.
Where will they hide? In drains most likely, like where Shadow was found, or under cars. They will hide for as long as possible, because they will never feel safe again. This means that they will forgo scavenging for food because they are scared out of their wits.
If the cat is aggressive, he will get injured through cat fights. Not only will there be injuries from cat bites and scratches which could lead to abscesses on the skin, there will also be a risk that a formerly healthy cat will get an infectious disease that transmits through exchange of fluids from cat bites.
As the cat is not aware of where and when the cat feeders – if any – come around, and cat feeders may not know that there is a new cat hiding out in their area – the cat will basically go hungry. And if they never come out of hiding, they will continue to go hungry.
This, plus the fact that being in an unfamiliar territory in an urban area means that cats do not realise the dangers of traffic. Blinding headlights, noisy cars, all this means danger, that a previously indoor cat will not understand. Even regular stray cats get into car accidents.
Abandoning a cat on the streets will probably mean a shorter life, possible death or injury, starvation, and ultimately making a cat very sad and depressed. Yes, cats have emotions too, they mimic the emotions of their owners, they have the ability to feel insecure and fearful. Abandoning a cat on the street is akin to dumping your own child on the street with ‘fingers crossed’ that someone will take care of it.
As we speak, there are a few newly abandoned cats in our zone. I wish I could throw these heartless humans out on the street with nary a possession to their name. Let them see how it is like, being homeless, without food or shelter, and becoming regarded as a beggar and an outcast. All I need is to get my hands on some heavy-duty locks and chains to second these culprits’ houses away from them. Such thoughts of mine, even when un-voiced, scare Andy and Aswat, because they know that I must never ever get to know any of these culprits or hell will break loose indeed.