Although feeding stray animals may seem nurturing, it actually causes more problems than it solves. Stray cats that receive a continuous supply of food reproduce more often, increasing the feral cat population. The rise in population results in more competition for food and increased disease outbreaks. Furthermore, offspring will be true feral cats that have not been socialized or tamed. Feeding neighborhood strays will also attract other stray animals such as raccoons and rats.
Feral cats, raccoons and rats are more than pests. According to an article written in the Toledo Blade last year by veterinarian Dr. Gary Thompson, “Feral cats and raccoons carry parasites and diseases that are contagious to your pets and you. The cats harbor an intestinal roundworm called Toxocara that can infect people, and in rare cases, lead to blindness. Young children are most at risk due to their habit of putting everything in their mouths and the microscopic eggs can persist in the soil for extended periods.”
Raccoons, although cute and mischievous, also pose serious health risks. These animals carry several life-threatening parasites and diseases, including tetanus, tularemia (rabbit fever) and rabies. Raccoons are one of the most reported rabid animals and can transmit the disease to pets, in turn exposing human owners.
For these reasons, feeding stray animals is strongly discouraged. The presence of strays and other animals is a serious risk to pets and family members. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends giving pets monthly preventatives, such as heartworm medication, to stop the spread of parasites, and keeping domestic cats indoors to prevent exposure to disease. Hand washing after any exposure to animals or soil is also recommended.
To have wild animals removed, Lakesiders can contact The Critter Man in Marblehead, Ohio at (419) 798-5445, or another animal control service. Stray cats can be taken to the Humane Society of Ottawa County in Port Clinton, Ohio, (419) 734-5191.
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