Letters to the editor: New solutions needed for Gainesville's massive cat population

Letters to the editor present the opinions of readers on news stories and other pieces published by The Sun.

Gainesville’s sacred cats

Gainesville has a massive cat population — community, feral, outdoor/indoor or otherwise. The shelters are full.

Outside, cats are vulnerable to weather, parasites, disease, malnutrition and bad actors. They rely on neighbors for whatever care they do receive. Meanwhile, they are a constant threat to the birds, bugs and reptiles for whom many of us want to provide a backyard haven.

A  kitten up for adoption at Alachua County Animal Services.
A kitten up for adoption at Alachua County Animal Services.

However, with dedicated community support and funding, this is a problem we can solve! We have all the ingredients right here — world-class veterinary care, the Santa Fe College teaching zoo, cat (and bird) lovers galore — along with local government, corporate and nonprofit stakeholders (Wild Spaces Public Places, Maddie’s Fund, Audubon Society, Wild Birds Unlimited, Petco, Petsmart, Chewy, etc.) to involve.

I propose that we find an unused parking-garage style building — there’s a perfect one on 13th Street — and turn it into a community cat zoo. Screen it in and add box fans, a few feet of mulch, some artificial trees, watering stations, feeding stations, etc. The roof could be a catnip garden. The bottom floor would be devoted to a clinic for incoming cats to be sterilized, dewormed and acclimated before release into their new digs.

All we’d need is a name. I propose “Alcatraz.” No dogs allowed!

Audrey Natwick, Gainesville

More letters to the editor:

UF students should be living in dorms, not rental properties

Not city planning

The announcement of a 12-story apartment to be constructed on 1.1 acre next to Innovation Square sums up the “city planning" process in Gainesville reminded me of the book "Babbitt" by Sinclair Lewis. It is a scary book. The characters are full of boosterism and materialistic striving. They are bereft of ethics and integrity.

Designing to maximize profits is not city planning. The stated fig leaf is "affordable housing." Housing is a national problem. Last year, 30% of housing sold in the USA was bought by people who did not intend to occupy the unit. Real estate has become a monopoly and there is no limit on what is charged for rent.

The elimination of zoning is designed to destroy working-class neighborhoods. The change will not impact the elite enclaves.    

Dorian Lucey, Gainesville 

Getting better

Recently my wife and I enjoyed a marvelous Gainesville evening. We bicycled to the University of Florida's School of Music to enjoy their fantastic "Tango!" Concert.

Riding home we marveled at the campus we rarely see, the one lit up at night. The air was cool and I said to myself, "It doesn't get better than this.” Then, it did.

When we arrived home I got a text saying, "This is Jenny. My friends and I just found your wallet. Come meet us at University and 15th."

I hustled over where five radiant UF students greeted me with a "Hi Glenn!" as they happily handed it to me. The experience left me feeling, more than ever, that we made the right choice when we moved to this unique university city.

Glenn Terry, Gainesville 

Banned books

I've listed a number of books below that either have been banned or are being considered for banning from our public schools. There are many more I could have listed, such as several by Mark Twain, but these suffice. I've read all these books. My children have read these books and some of my grandchildren are reading them now.

Can someone in our community explain why an anti-war book like “Slaughterhouse Five” is being banned? Should we be in favor of war? Why is "The Diary of Anne Frank” being banned or “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Grapes of Wrath” or “Fahrenheit 451”?

A selection of some commonly banned books are displayed at a book store.
A selection of some commonly banned books are displayed at a book store.

When I was in elementary school and high school hundreds, even thousands read these books without suffering any psychological damage, or any self-doubts as to who we are and who our community was that we lived in. These books tell us about the world we live in, the history of the world we lived in and, perhaps, about the future we might live in.

Some claim that the language in these books is age inappropriate. When I’ve taken my grandchild to elementary school, to middle school and to various sport practices, I’ve heard every age using these supposedly age-inappropriate words, so reading them should not cause harm.

I don't understand the reasoning behind the push to ban these books. Could someone enlighten me?

Howard B. Rothman, Gainesville

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This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Letters on Gainesville's cat population, city planning, banned books