Council balks at controversial cat rules
Original post made
on Apr 2, 2014
With weeks of controversy over new cat license requirements now resolved, you might think that a new city animal control ordinance would have passed without a hitch at Tuesday's City Council meeting. That wasn't the case.
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posted Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 1:42 PM
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Posted by CheriM
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm
Sorry to be so wordy, but I wanted to post part of a sample letter Ally Cat Rescue has on their website advocating TNR. It has some good information.
The preferred non-lethal method of controlling feral or stray cats is by implementing a trap-neuter-return program. In practicing TNR, cats are caught by humane traps, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and returned to the site. Kittens/cats that are friendly or can be socialized should be placed into an adoption program to find permanent homes. Cat rescue organizations, such as Alley Cat Rescue, have over 30 years of experience working with feral cats, which has taught us that TNR immediately reduces colonies, because all kittens and tame cats are removed. Those who are truly "feral" should be returned to the site, where supervised, long-term care is ensured by dedicated volunteers.
The benefits of TNR are numerous. It stabilizes populations at manageable levels, by stopping the reproductive cycle. Over time, the natural cycle of attrition will maintain the stable numbers and any new cats to the colony will be sterilized. Sterilizing eliminates "annoying" mating behaviors, such as fighting, yowling, and "spraying." TNR is also more effective/less costly than repeated eradication attempts. Complete eradication attempts fail and in some cases are counterproductive because they cause a vacuum effect. Biologist Roger Tabor, explains that removing cats all together will allow for more cats to quickly fill in the vacant space. However, "if a colony is neutered and returned to its area it will continue to hold the location and keep other cats out by its presence." In addition, in numerous cases when feral cats are removed from an area, the rodent populations explode, causing further problems. In September 2008, Cape May removed feral cats and the skunk population took over, and in the news now, an Australian island removed feral cats and now the rabbit population is destroying vegetation. Lastly, TNR is humane to the animals and fosters compassion within the community.
Also, cats that have been trapped and evaluated by a veterinarian are healthier and are less likely to transmit diseases (to other cats and to humans). Those that have been spayed (females) are less susceptible to uterine, ovarian, or mammary cancer, and males that are neutered are less likely to get testicular tumors or have prostate problems. In addition, cats that are "fixed" tend to be less aggressive (fight less, which decreases disease transmission) and wander less (they will keep other cats from joining the colony and it makes managing them easier). Lastly, a three-year rabies vaccine is administered; which in studies have shown to be effective for longer than three years. Vaccinated cats will also provide a buffer zone between wildlife and humans.
Yes, various options exist; however, TNR makes the most sense. The trap and kill method has been proven not to work, as I explained above, and another approach to the problem is to pass ordinances prohibiting people from feeding stray/feral cats. At first thought the idea of such an ordinance may seem to make sense; however, this step may only heighten the problem rather than help. The logic behind such bans is that if there is no food available, the cats will go away. This is not true. "Starving out" cats will only make the situation worse for the community and for the cats. Plus, it will put those individuals willing to take care of and give homes to stray/feral cats under fire, when all they are trying to do is help the animals. Instead of blaming the feeders and criminalizing their actions, we should encourage their acts of compassion by assisting them with the resources and information available to care for and sterilize the animals. After all, it is not necessarily their fault the cats are homeless; they are just trying to be upstanding citizens, by taking it upon themselves to help the animals.
Simply prohibiting individuals from feeding strays/ferals will not solve the problem. Where there is a large number of people living (food source), there will be cats. And if individuals continue not to spay/neuter their pets, allowing them to reproduce, there will be stray/feral animals. Ultimately, we all need to work together, if we are to control the pet overpopulation. The current trend of scapegoating cats is very dangerous, for it fosters cruelty to animals, and the time spent placing blame is only time wasted. Plus, non-lethal methods for controlling their populations exist and should be advocated by all who are trying to instill a more compassionate ethic towards the earth and all its inhabitants.