Cat-tastrophe, I take exception with the way you express your opinion. There is room for many opinions, and I certainly respect anyone's decision not to spay a pregnant female. However, I think experience and education affect such decisions. One can value life and still make that decision.
I don't know where you live, but the deer and bear "over"population issue is a real problem in the rural area in which I live. Nature is not killing them "quickly" enough, so to speak, and the growth in human population is crowding out their natural living areas. Bears are turning up in people's kitchens, and deer kills by cars (or injuries, where someone then has to go find them to shoot them to put them out of their misery) are a serious problem, both for the deer and the drivers (and the people who have to shoot them if necessary). It is a seriously heated debate about how to deal with the problem. There is no easy answer, and it is very sad - for the people, for the deer, and for the bears.
I understand you morally have a problem with aborting kittens. I understand that, and that is your right and your choice. But are you actually proposing that nothing be done about feral cats? They should just be left alone, like wild animals? Sadly, too many people do not agree. Condominiums, with many abandoned cats, call animal control to have them come, trap all the cats, and then they are all euthanized. How do you propose to stop that?
Out here, the farmers were getting fed up of all the cats. They either put poison out for them or they were drowning the kittens. Talk about painful, horrible deaths. We fought long and hard to work with these people to let us trap and sterlize the cats. There are only homes for so many cats in any given community.
You say, "there's not really an overpopulation problem, there are just many more people putting cats in these well meaning, but overcrowded shelters, than there are people who adopt cats from shelters."
You acknowledge that there are more cats than there are homes for them. So putting a cat you don't want out on the street because it has a peeing problem is OK? Because if it goes into a shelter, it will likely be euthanized. Which is more humane?
Are you proposing that shelters be closed? That unwanted cats should just be put out, left on their own?
Estimates of feral cats in the U.S. range from 60 million to 100 million. Either way, it is a depressing number - to me. And that is feral cats, not the unwanted, formerly "owned" cats. Cats do not eat berries or bugs, like birds. They do not eat foliage, like deer. They are opportunistic feeders, which means that while they will hunt birds and small mammals, if garbage is available, they'll eat that. Have you ever seen a cat die of salmonella poisoning?
"Only" approximately 8 million animals enter shelters each year. Approximately 50% of those are euthanized.
Most shelters automatically euthanize feral animals (cats and dogs). When SO MANY cats that "had" people are abandoned or surrendered, why should we allow the feral animals to procreate when there is a more humane option?
Feral kittens can be socialized, and one of the functions of this forum is to fight the traditional notion that feral kittens can only be socialized if 8 - 10 weeks old. We've helped people socialize ferals that are 1, 2, 3 years old.
If someone wants to take in a pregnant female, let her have the kittens, and adopt them out, I think that is wonderful. We are here to help anyone through that process. But to people new to rescue, they may not know abortion is an option. Whether it is something one chooses to do or not is entirely up to each individual. But I beg to differ with your opinion that it is sick. I think farmers drowning unwanted kittens is sick. I think people putting out poison to kill cats is sick. What I want to do is sterilize the feral cats so they cannot procreate. Sadly, too many people allow their cats to roam - or put them out - without spaying or neutering them. People like me and many of us at TCS are here to clean up their mess. But the domestic cat is NOT a wild animal. They are resourceful, they are survivors. It is something I admire about them. But they are NOT cougars, they are not bobcats, they are not jaguars - they are Felis Catus, the domestic cat.
If you will note in my post, I did not recommend the poster have the mother spayed. It is what I would do, if possible. Because I think it is far more humane than allowing more homeless cats to be brought into this world. Any home a feral kitten takes up is a home that does not adopt out of a shelter - a cat that already exists that is in need and has a 50% chance of being murdered.
I do, however, feel VERY strongly that if someone is not prepared to trap and sterilize, then the roaming cats, feral or otherwise, should NOT be fed.
I don't know if you've been involved in rescue, where you've been involved in rescue, or how long you've been involved in rescue. The world of rescue in which I now live is not at all black and white. To make the decision to spay a pregnant female is a moral choice. My morals, in this instance, are affected by experience and information. The world of rescue in which I live has many shades of gray.