Interesting conversation with Cut Bank's animal control officer.
He suggests that the feral cat population exploded when in 1974 the leash law for dogs went into effect. Up until then, the dogs had killed enough cats to keep the population under control. I also suggested that another change in the ecology was the use of poisonous chemicals on a much expanded scale. Chemical fallow in particular sterilizes the land so that even if a rodent could survive the pesticides, they would have nothing to eat. Therefore feral cats who used to eat field rodents come into town to become "satellite cats" who live off human scraps and pests. People around here tend to use chemical solutions for many things. Even insulin for diabetes instead of diet and exercise.
As it turns out, the Valier woman with too many cats who so upsets some people, is not feeding feral or satellite cats but rather capturing them and bringing them inside. But they fight each other unless she separates them in cages. This means cat litter boxes. The woman is finding comfort in the cats because she is on a chemical regime for cancer, but that makes her immuno-compromised so that she is vulnerable to toxoplasmosis, the litter box parasite, which eats brains and eyes.
Cats in cages are not a "feral" cat problem but rather a cruelty problem -- if you are of the belief that cages are cruel. But the HSUS often pushes the idea that cats should never be let outside, which is also a captivity. Interfering in cats in cages in a house becomes an issue of invasion of privacy of the dweller and would require a warrant or some welfare agent with power to overrule the occupant. People who take these jobs can be controllers and bullies. So that adds to the problem of wrestling with disease the additional stress of wrestling with authorities who do things to people "for their own good," even keeping people in sterile boxes.
What I'm saying is that there is no problem involving living things that is not ecological on some level -- that is, tied to everything else. This is why laws are meant to have several levels: perceived problem, written standards, enforcement according to human judgment, and then review by judges. Even then injustice, ironies, and unintended consequences result.
Another dimension to this is that fenced yard dogs are barking dogs. There are dogs in four different fenced yards adjacent to my house. If one set sees something to bark at, they all bark and the cacophony is high volume. Only one set can be identified from a distance because it includes a hound that bays.
PS: This morning all the little garage kittens are missing. The Granny MamaCat is still nearby and the Bull Tomcat is visiting. I have no clue what happened. It could be that the Granny MamaCat moved her kittens somewhere else, or it could be that some "helpful" citizen removed them in the night.
Bunny has been upset all day so far. Her two kittens are fine, trying to understand drinking water. They keep sticking their paws in. Humph, they say, and shake the water off. One used the litter box for the first time today.