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Creature Feature: Prowling the Divide

After years of debate about the place of feral cats in our society, bird lovers and feline advocates are making peace for the sake of the animals

After years of debate about the place of feral cats in our society, bird lovers and feline advocates are making peace for the sake of the animals

Left to their own devices, feral cats are trapped in an unending cycle of breeding and scavenging for food. Managed colonies can make a huge difference. MINIMIL/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
It wasn’t the shot heard around the world—but it didn’t go unnoticed.

The victim, a feral tabby named Mama Cat, lived under the San Luis Pass Bridge in Galveston, Texas, where she was fed by an elderly toll worker. In November 2006, Mama Cat took a .22-caliber hollow point bullet to the spine and, according to police testimony, suffered for more than 30 minutes before dying. The triggerman, local birding guide James Stevenson, was unrepentant. He claimed the cat was a threat to endangered piping plovers nesting on the nearby dunes, and killing her was a public service.

Debates on the Galveston killing started simmering on the Internet, with cat and bird enthusiasts quick to weigh in. And when Stevenson was indicted on animal cruelty charges five months later, the national press picked up the story, depicting cats and birds and the people who defend them at deadly odds with no middle ground in sight.

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