Our March 5, 2008 show: The Homeless Cat – Born Wild or Wild by Loss. One woman’s crusade to bring care and comfort to homeless and feral cats.
What if disaster strikes and your protected pet is suddenly transformed into a terrified, homeless cat?
My guest, Lindsay Donzanti, is an organizer and marathon participant for Adopt a Stray (found in Petsmart) and The Cat Network, Inc. Lindsay raises funds for low-cost certificates for spaying and neutering. Lindsay saves hundreds of cats every year through her personal efforts to feed and care for stray cats.
We’re pleased to provide the complete interview below.
Hello Joyce, thank you for such a lofty introduction. I realize that there
are many, many people out there that do far more than I. Nevertheless I’m very
happy to be here and speak for all the homeless, lonely cats out there. These
cats are either born feral or through very unfortunate circumstances, become
Q: What exactly do you mean by that?
Feral cats are born wild, outside and are never touched by humans; while homeless
cats become homeless perhaps just because they ran away from home, perhaps
they were frightened or the door was left open and their curiosity got the
better of them or, in some cases, their owners that no longer wanted them dumped
them, perhaps thinking ‘Oh, I’ve seen some cats on the golf course or the park
and they seem fine. I’ll leave my cat there as I know someone’s feeding them’.
This even happens to declawed cats, whose life expectancy can be counted in
days rather than years under these circumstances.
The very sad truth is that more often than not, the cats already in the colony
will not accept an interloper. I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that
I’ve seen this first hand on quite a few occasions; where the cats are beaten
up and not allowed to eat the food that’s there and they’re ostracized. In
cases like this, they will probably starve to death or, in desperation, try
to find their way home and be killed by a car.
Q: How did you get into this?
A: Actually, Joyce, I came by this honestly as my mother in England was an
animal lover and it’s hard to think of a time when we didn’t have a cat. All
of the cats invited into our family home were, at one time, strays. I’ve been
in the U.S. for 25 years and, for some reason, I started discovering colonies
in parks and on the beach and couldn’t resist feeding them. I started trapping
cats on the golf course where I live.
I would trap a cat during the wee small hours; take them back to my terrace
and then early in the morning take them to the vet, have them either spayed,
neutered and in many cases aborted.
One night a friend and I trapped a tiny cat and all night I couldn’t sleep,
worrying that she was so tiny the vet would refuse to operate
on her due to her not being the required 2.5 lbs., and how would I ever entice
her back into the trap at a later date? Imagine my surprise and horror to be
told that they had aborted 5 kittens from this tiny little thing!
After the operation, I would take the cat back to my house and keep them overnight
or longer depending on the severity of the operation – male vs female. During
this time, I would try my hardest to find them a home and, on many occasions,
I was successful but I have now officially run out of friends who are willing
to have more cats foisted off on them. So, in that instance, the cat goes back
to their original location where I continue to feed them.
Q: Do you have statistics on homeless cats?
A: Yes, as a matter of fact I do and it’s quite alarming and unbelievable.
The breeding capability of cats varies upon conditions. But animal advocates
say one pair of cats – little by little – could conceivably produce 420,000
kittens in seven years. I know that sounds hard to believe, I hardly believed
it myself until I did the math.
Feral cats usually have three litters per year with 4-6 kittens.
Let’s say half of these are females who, at 6 months or earlier,
are producing at the same rate and they have 4-6 kittens three times per year,
etc., etc., and now you can see where they get this alarming statistic.
Additionally, 3-4 million cats & dogs are euthanized each year in the U.S.
by the Humane Societies. Those are the lucky ones and I say lucky in quotes
of course because they are the ones that don’t meet their deaths by starvation,
disease, being run over etc. etc.
I was recently appalled to hear that in the city of Joplin, MO, an ordinance
has now been passed forbidding citizens from feeding the homeless cats in the
hope that they will all starve to death and thereby solve their feral cat problem.
I in fact wrote to all the City Fathers and sent a letter to the Joplin Globe
likening this tactic to an animal holocaust.
Q: How else might they solve this problem?
A: I’ll give you perfect example: I worked for the City of Sunny Isles Beach
which had a TNR program. To those listeners that might not know what this is – TNR
stands for trap neuter release. A lot of my friends are lucky enough to live
in such a progressive city such as Sunny Isles Beach because they can get free
coupons for the sterilization all they have to do is trap the cats and take
them to the vets, which they are very happy to do.
There are organizations such as Cat Network that offers these coupons to the
public for $25 each which can be used in a network of wonderful, animal-loving
as opposed to money-loving vets who perform this operation at what I suspect is a loss.
In this case, Cat Network pays a little extra towards this operation. Perhaps Joplin could
raise money for this humanitarian project instead of approaching this in such
a cold, heartless manner. How can anyone stand by and watch anything starve – it’s
truly a cruel death. Think about it!
Q: What can the average listener do to help?
A: I realize that creeping around at midnight trapping cats might not appeal
to everyone. My friends and I do it because we feel compelled and we are physically
and emotionally able. I do realize that others don’t feel this way but, boy,
can they help. You can, of course, donate money; volunteer at your local human
society or animal adoption agency; and you can help someone who help animals
such as myself. I can tell you that if it weren’t for the generosity of others,
I would not be in a position to do all that I do because I can’t do it all.
All three traps that I now own were donated to me. The auto tag agencies have
a spay & neuter license plate which will cost only $25 extra per year – this
money goes to various agencies who promote this spaying and neutering.
Q: How do you pay for all of this loving care?
A: My husband and I pay for the food and, in the past when I worked, the neutering
as well. Now, however, I, in part depend on others. Last year and again this
year, I entered the Miami Marathon and I asked my generous friends to sponsor
me. The first year I donated almost $1,000 to Adopt-A-Stray which is a wonderful,
no kill adoption agency located in Petsmart close to home. The next year I
decided to buy the $25 certificates directly from Cat Network and, at this
moment, with the help of my friends, I am working my way steadily through this
– one cat at a time!!
For example, I would like to make an appeal for a very special little cat by
the name of Stevie (as in Stevie Wonder) as this poor soul is blind. He (or
she) lives in a very busy parking lot in a strip mall that is slated to be
demolished shortly. If there’s anyone out there who would be willing to give
this cat a home and a chance at life, it would be a truly unselfish act.
Stevie is not the sweetest cat at the moment because he’s terrified – but he’s that
way for a good reason – he wanders around his small area, hearing cars rushing
towards him waiting for us to come feed him. We never know if he’s going to
be alive when we get there – so, please, open your heart and home if you are
able. Stevie is a rather small so we do believe Stevie is actually a female.
(Note: Stevie has since found a home.)
On a lighter note I have had quite a few successes regarding cats that I have
trapped and found homes for – some of which I still have visiting privileges
to and it’s so wonderful to see these cats because some of their accommodations
are very luxurious, many of them overlooking the golf course where they once
had little or no shelter from the elements and most of the cats are lucky enough
to have brothers & sisters to share their new, improved lives. Kismet – Bloomie
Cats – Rina – Magic – Kisses – Greyboy – Willow.
Q: If you could only get one point today, what would it be?
A: In the words of the beloved Bob Barker “spay and neuter you pet.” I can’t
say that often enough so that if they do inadvertently run away, they won’t
reproduce and create such misery. I have one more quote that I would like to
leave you with. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged
by the way its animals are treated.” And that quote comes from spiritual leader
You can contact Lindsay directly: LindsayRTD (at) aol.com.