Learning the ways of the WNC wild

Regarding Mr. Jeffrey Q. Smith’s critique [Letters, “Revisiting Those Cats and Snakes,” Sept. 12] of my “Kitties and Copperheads” commentary [Aug. 8], I agree that we were wrong to kill the snakes, and in my summation [I] explained that it was fear itself that challenged us. In doing my research, I learned how comparatively nonlethal copperhead bites are, but [I] did not know that at the time. Our main concern was clearing the high-traffic areas of what we thought were lethal intruders.

I also agree that we must try to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna, which is at extreme risk due to the pandemic of construction going on in these mountains.

With regard to the cats, we went through the laborious process of removing a growing population of feral cats by trapping eight of nine [and] transporting [them] individually to the Humane Society—for the very reasons [Mr. Smith] mentioned, as well as the safety of our own cat. As irony would have it, I was admonished by a fellow parent at my son’s school for not having the compassion to have all eight cats neutered or spayed and returned to the wilderness—what some compassionate animal lovers refer to as neuter-and-release, which I believe [to be] highly irresponsible.

As for our own cats, the Bengal was kept in the house until he was neutered at 6 months (as was the one feral kitten we kept). We even leash-trained the Bengal, but finally decided it was too cruel to keep a cat caged inside of a house. Both receive annual feline-leukemia and feline-immunodeficiency shots, regular rabies vaccinations, and monthly treatment for fleas and ticks. They are well fed, and I berate them if I catch them harming the wildlife.

Finally, at the London Zoo, there is a mirror with a sign next to it that says, “You are looking at the most dangerous animal in the world.”

— Julia Brooke-Childs

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