Feral Cats Spared in Santa Ana CaliforniaPublished June 6, 2012
Cat lovers will cheer over the latest news. The lives of two feral cat colonies living in Santa Ana, California have been spared. According to an article recently featured on the Orange County Register the protest scheduled for June 3 was cancelled after Santa Ana officials pulled traps to capture two colonies of feral cats in an effort to stave off an epidemic of typhus, since there was no solid plan on how to handle the cats.
City spokesperson, Jose Gonzalez told the Orange County Register, "We are changing our focus and attacking the real problem, which are the fleas. The main issue right now is to safeguard the community and reduce the risk of typhus."
A couple of weeks ago, Santa Ana officials released an announcement that a child living within the proximity of two schools had been hospitalized with typhus. The child has since made a full recovery.
On May 29, the LA Daily News published a highly disturbing story about two colonies of feral cats living in Santa Ana who were in danger of being trapped on the grounds of two schools by Vector Control officials, in an effort to reduce the flea population and stave off a potential epidemic of typhus.
Opossums had already been trapped by Vector Control officials. But at the time the article was published no feral cats living in the area had been captured. According to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police, plans were already in the works to set traps that day, at El Sol Science and Arts Academy and the Frances E. Willard Intermediate School. Once the feral cats were trapped, plans were made to sedate and humanely euthanize the cats.
Gonzalez said the Vector Control officials had been disseminating information to local residents on how to avoid being infected with typhus, a potentially deadly disease which is commonly transmitted by fleas. Residents were also advised to treat their pets with flea prevention medication.
Gonzalez told the LA Daily News, “The issue here is, the person lives in close proximity to two schools and because there are feral cats on the school grounds.”
Responding to Santa Ana officials’ plans to trap the feral cats living on the schools’ property, in a press release on bizjournals.com, Alley Cat Allies implored the Santa Ana public workers to stop the trapping and killing of these feral cats in their misguided effort to eradicate flea-born typhus.
Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of the organization said, "This trapping ignores the basic scientific fact that typhus is not spread by cats—it is caused by a bacteria spread by fleas. Killing cats is cruel and is not a solution."
Fleas are versatile parasites, according to Epidemiologist Deborah L. Ackerman, M.S., and Ph.D. If the cats are removed, fleas will just turn their attention to other suitable hosts, such as dogs, opossums, mice and raccoons.
Instead of killing the feral cats, Alley Cat Allies advised Santa Ana officials to focus their efforts on flea control; the source of typhus and follow the example of other areas with typhus cases.
Alley Cat Allies also urged Santa Ana officials to offer community residents the resources to ensure the pets with which they live are protected.
It’s a great relief that Santa Ana officials have replaced their plan to trap the cats with a far more logical one which focuses on flea control. If the cats were able to know what lay in store for them, I bet they would be greatly relieved as well.
What was your reaction to Santa Ana officials’ change of heart? Share with a comment.