A small group of caring volunteers in Middlesex, New Jersey has been maintaining a colony of cats in the community for 8 years. The colony lives in a field behind a church. The volunteers bought and set up a shed for housing the cats, trapped them all, had them vaccinated and neutered, and returned them. They now feed them regularly. Over the years, the colony has reduced in size due to adoptions and deaths from 24 cats to just 10 today.
The 10 remaining cats are all senior kitties and colony caretakers would like them to live out their days in peace. But suddenly it’s a hair-on-fire emergency to haul the cats off to the pound to be killed:
“For eight years, it has been an extreme health risk,” Middlesex Mayor Robert Sherr said, drawing groans from those who last week attended an emergency meeting of the borough’s board of health.
It’s been an EXTREME HEALTH RISK for 8 years! Gah! Think of the children!
But health officials say the cat community is unsafe, particularly with a preschool operating in the rear potion [sic] of the church.
“If I was the parent of a child at the preschool, I would be upset,” [Borough board of health president John] Madden said.
Yes, just imagine. Your wee tot might see a cat from a distance. And of course, seeing a cat is a good way to get RABIES!
And then, the inevitable:
“Managed cat colonies are not a humane solution for the cats because they still face a multitude of hazards, including cars, poisoning, animal attacks, inclement weather and human abuse,” acting county health director Katherine Antonitis said in a statement. She said rabies infections are more prevalent in cats than dogs.
As to how many kiddies have been infected by rabies from these elderly cats over the past 8 years – well, I guess it must not be too many or they would have mentioned it. Church staff have reportedly had to cover the kids’ sandbox, which I’m sure is a terribly exhausting ordeal to suffer through each day, but isn’t that just good practice for any pre-school?
I know it’s a code red extreme health risk situation here with the grumpy old cats but has anyone checked to see how many kids at the pre-school have actually gotten sick from the cats vs. how many have gotten sick from getting coughed on, sharing toys, and eating food off the floor? Maybe the borough should convene another emergency meeting.
By the way, does every man, woman and child have access to health care in Middlesex, NJ? Cause if not, I wonder if the board of health might have any more pressing items on its agenda.