Lubbock has an obvious problem with cats. There are far too many stray and feral cats on the streets and many cats waiting at shelters and fosters to be adopted. What can we do about this problem? 

First, let me be abundantly clear that my bias falls entirely on the side of the cats. Cats are adorable, beautiful, and incredibly useful animals in the correct context. And not one of them asked to be born or dumped out into the street.

I am also trying to withhold judgment on people, too. There's bad information out there, particularly the irresponsible and totally inaccurate idea that it's good for a female cat to have at least one litter. It's not, just ask any reputable rescue group:

  1. Cats don't 'need' to have a litter of kittens; there are no proven health or welfare benefits.

  2. There are lots of health benefits to neutering, including a big reduction in the risk of getting FIV (the cat version of HIV/ AIDS).

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash
Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Another misconception is that you can simply keep your unneutered animals inside, and they'll never get an opportunity to mate. Sure, if you're home is a high-security cat prison and they never, ever get a single second to fly out the door or the window. It takes cats no time to find a mate and do the deed. Also, why would you do this to yourself? A cat in heat is annoying and will almost certainly keep you up at night yowling.

So what's the solution to our cat overpopulation problem? It's two-fold. The first is, of course, personal responsibility. Cat owners need to spay and neuter their animals, and there are affordable options for folks who need help. P.E.T.S Clinic of Lubbock offers very affordable spay and neuters and vaccines for cats. Yes, you might have to be patient getting an appointment because their services are in high demand, which is why folks needing this service should get on the list ASAP.

For feral and free-roaming cats (cats not "owned" by anyone but who can be handled) there are plenty of options, too. P.E.T.S also offers spay/ neuters on these animals at a low cost. There are organizations in Lubbock that can assist with TNR for these animals (trap-neuter-release) like the Humane Society of West Texas and Kat's Alley Cats. Again, these services are in high demand, so I recommend getting on the list as soon as possible.

This issue, like many others, is a problem because too many people have shrugged their shoulders and said "Not my problem". If we all chip in and do our part, even if it's just donating a few dollars to one of the aforementioned organizations, we can mitigate this issue. I do; however, think a quicker solution is to have a municipally funded and executed TNR program as well. You could call or email your city council person about this if your preferred way to help is through advocacy (which is a great way to help!)

In the meantime, we need to help the helpers by being personally responsible for our own pets and by doing what we can for strays and ferals. I'd love to see a Lubbock in which a litter of kittens is a planned joy with a home ready for every kitten.

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Gallery Credit: Renee Raven

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