|THE FERAL CAT ENIGMA
Strategies for saving feral cats (and their offspring, who can make up
the bulk of the kitten population in our shelters) cannot rely solely on
aggressive adoption programs or strategies appropriate for healthy and
treatable pets. The answer for feral cats lies in community based
programs that allow them to live out their lives side by-side with the
rest us, while we devise other programs to humanely control their
numbers Nathan J. Winograd,
|What are Feral Cats?
The term Feral covers a lot of ground. It ranges from those
who live in back allies and in the wild and are completely 'untouched by
human hands' to working barn cats to the free spirits that wander
through different dooryards seeking food and shelter. How do social
animals like cats become feral? Many are the offspring of companion
animals who were abandoned or dumped.
|What can be done for Feral Cats?
Conventional rescues often regard feral cats as untreatable. Yet
controlling feral cat populations in a humane way does not have to mean
catching and killing them. Shelters and rescues are already overflowing
with friendly, socialized house cats. Trap Neuter Return is widely
recognized as the most effective and humane way to reduce feral cat
|How does TNR work?
Cat colonies are humanely trapped
and brought to vet clinics where they are tested for Feline Leukemia,
vaccinated, health checked and spayed or neutered. After surgery, they
recuperate for a day or two and then are returned to the the colony
where they will live out their natural lives.
|Why is TNR an effective solution?
Because the cats cannot reproduce, colonies will gradually grow smaller
instead of increasing. Colonies become more stable because the cats are
healthier and do not wander and fight.
Do feral cat caregivers create
No. The colonies already existed.
Caregivers feed the cats so they don't wander. With TNR, the cat
colonies cannot grow.
How can the caregivers tell which cats
have been neutered?
Most vets will notch an ear to identify the cat
has been spayed or neutered.
Is anyone who feeds
stray cats a caregiver?
No. Unless they have Trapped, Neutered and
then returned the cats to their original place, they are only feeding
the cats. Unless the cats are neutered, they will keep reproducing and
problems will escalate as the population does.
|Why go to all this trouble when feral
cats live such short lives?
Cats in a colony will live longer and
healthier lives after TNR. In many cases the hardships they face are no
different than the ones all wildlife live with. We wouldn't dream of
killing raccoons, squirrels, beaver, etc. Feral cats deserve compassion
and protection for their whole lives.
|What about the other
TNR does not release cats in new locations, it returns the
colony to its point of origin. Every reputable study to date has shown
that claims of cat predation affecting bird and wildlife populations are
wholly overstated, and that the true causes of population declines are
factors such as habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and drought.
TNR Reduces Costs to Taxpayers
In addition to being the most humane, effective, and healthy option for
controlling feral cat populations, TNR is also the most cost-effective.
TNR and colony management by compassionate individuals is accomplished
wholly at private expense while trapping the cats and taking them to
animal control agencies requires taxpayer dollars for intake, housing,
handling, feeding, killing and "disposal."
The Nova Scotia SPCA and the
Federation of Humane Societies have taken a position of support for TNR.
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