This past Friday, 20/20 aired a show that completely missed a perfect opportunity to educate the public on the cat overpopulation problem and how cat rescue really works. Instead, they did a show that has been done a million times before…they chose three random ladies and delved into their personal and emotional lives and let the public judge from there. How sad.
In talking with these ladies, 20/20 should have also interviewed individuals from no-kill rescues, so the workings of rescue efforts could be told. These news stations always feature individuals, who although they mean well, usually do not have solid experience in cat rescue. Watching the woman trapping the feral cat made most of us rescuers cringe, knowing that that is not the correct way to handle a cat in a trap; and listening to the gentleman animal control officer talk about “rescuers” trapping feral cats and taking them into their homes; this too is not a standard rescue practice. These examples and suggested circumstances are what the public have to draw their opinion from; which paints an unfair picture of cat rescuers for these reporters do not always use the most accurate of information or they portray a biased interpretation.
The reason most individuals become “crazy cat ladies” and some “crazy cat men,” especially us rescuers, is because there is a huge cat overpopulation crisis in the country and none of us can afford to buy a shelter or have the resources to start our own nonprofit organization, so we keep the cats in our homes. Most real cat rescuers would gladly reduce the number of cats in their home, if they could find good permanent homes for their cats; that is, if there were more good homes and not thousands of cats waiting for a home or waiting in a shelter to be killed. Most rescuers also end up with “too many cats” because they usually keep the "unadoptable" ones that no one wants; most people want a lap cat. Just the other day, ACR had a cat returned, a beautiful, healthy, not even a year-old cat, because she was not a "lap cat." Sorry, but to us rescuers, they are all beautiful and worthy of a good home.
Yes, there is a thin line between animal rescue and animal hoarding, but to use a “number” as a deciding factor and to stereotype anyone with more than this particular number (of cats) is irresponsible. Each situation should be looked at individually, and in cases where an individual has “too many cats,” it should be decided if the person really has good intentions (the animals are well cared for) and he/she should be put in contact with a rescue group to help place the cats in an adoption program; for individuals, who are diagnosed with mental or emotional issues (most often the cats are not taken care of – hoarding situation), then that person should receive the appropriate help they need…rescuers do not condone this type of behavior.
What 20/20 needed to do was to talk about spay/neuter programs and the importance of sterilizing companion animals, so that unwanted cats and dogs are not sitting in shelters waiting for homes, waiting for death, living in the streets, forming feral colonies. They needed to talk with experienced individuals about the benefits of trap-neuter-return (TNR) and how it works. They also needed to educate people on where to go for resources in their area to get help with spay/neuter services and TNR programs. Unfortunately, 20/20 decided to show the public how three ladies live and think who happen to own cats, and let us judge them as the stereotypical “crazy cat ladies.”
To express your opinion on 20/20’s “Crazy Cat Ladies” episode, you may contact them at:
Online email page for 20/20:
Online email page for ABC news – 20/20: http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3271346&cat=20/20