Handling The Problem Of Feral Cats And Wild Puppies

FOCUS ON PETS

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My "throwaway" puppies are growing and full of beans. They get into everything. I am trying to teach them a few basic manners, but they are teaching me more.

Watching these two playing together is an education.

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Friends of Ferals will loan traps to those who are willing to trap and transport cats for spaying and neutering and then release them. That is the only humane way to deal with the problem.

It is not necessary to spend a fortune on toys for they would just as soon play with a Pringles potato chip container. These are great fun because they roll and make wonderful noises. Or the pups entertain themselves playing tug of war with a recently pulled weed. Most of the toys I have bought at the various dollar stores sit untouched. They prefer to discover their own fun. It is almost impossible to read the newspaper with the pups present and if you set the paper down, it will be shredded instantly.

Another lesson learned: No matter how much you feed healthy puppies, they will always beg for more. You cannot fill them up. It would be interesting to see how much they would consume if they were given the chance to pig out. Surely, they would gorge themselves. Is it because they were malnourished and had to fight for every bite that they are so crazed about food?

Puppy behavior is fascinating when they are allowed to play freely and make their own rules. They chew on each other and then wonder why they cannot chew on me.

They run and play tag and hide and seek. One will grab the other's tail and pull hard. Then they curl up close together for a nap.

Their antics with my two older dogs are less successful. I assumed that eventually, my two would warm up to these girls and play with them. Gibson curls his lip and growls, occasionally snapping. He would not hurt them, but he does not want to be bothered. They are persistent and very submissive. Higgins is tolerating them a little and every so often will offer to run with them.

But primarily, I believe they are making it very clear that two dogs in this household are enough. My dogs are rejecting these pups for very selfish reasons.

Several books have been written about the behavior of dogs in groups.

Their actions resemble those of wild packs.

The interactions of these pups and my adult dogs mimic the behavior of wolves and coyotes.

The older members of the group do the disciplining and establish the behavior for the pups who are very submissive. Aggressive pups would be driven out of the pack.

It is interesting to see that as much as these pups love each other and other dogs, they crave attention from people. Think of all the pups that grow up without any companionship. How very sad.

And then I encounter the huge quantity of throwaway cats around here.

I was eating a hamburger on the patio at a restaurant recently when five feral cats immediately appeared for handouts. One was a beautiful Siamese. Assuming that most are able to produce offspring, it is painful to think of how many there will be next year.

Some will be killed on the highway or be carried off by predators. Many will live to produce kittens, grandkittens, great-grandkittens and on and on.

The other night I went out seeking feral cats to photograph for this column.

At first I saw none, but as I wandered around behind buildings, I began to catch fleeting glimpses and realized the woods were full of them. Two adorable black and white kittens caught my attention but they refused to stay still for even a moment. A large black and white adult, maybe the daddy of the whole group, wandered in and out of my lens.

These puppies residing at my house are thriving on the very best puppy food supplemented with an occasional egg and yogurt.

These growing and reproducing feral cats are living on French fries and garbage. How can they possibly survive and nourish young with such poor nutrition? They do appear healthy. Does the occasional mouse or bird fill the gap in their diet?

How can people be so unthinking and uncaring to throw out living creatures like trash?

That alone should be a crime. When they are not spayed and neutered, the cruelty is multiplied.

Please have your cats and dogs spayed and neutered and spend time with them. You will be glad you did.

If you have a loving home for a puppy or two, please call me at (928) 476-2239.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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