There is a double whammy effect when a country has a policy of killing unwanted cats.
If the cats killed are feral cats – and almost all trapped feral cats are killed – other feral cats move into the space vacated by the killed cats. This is the well known vacuum effect. So, killing feral and stray cats does not solve the problem of unwanted community cats.
If the cats killed are unwanted domestic cats – and there are millions relinquished to cat shelters – by killing them society indirectly encourages relinquishment. A person who no longer wants their cat can dump it at a shelter where, on average, 70% are killed. There is no resistance or barrier to abandoning a cat at a shelter.
The open faucet (tap) analogy is this: At one end water flows into a tank and at the base of the tank the tap is open so it flows out. The water flows constantly and there is a lot of waste of resources.
In relation to cats…..
The water flowing in is the excess creation of unwanted cats due to irresponsible cat caretaking in failing to neuter “owned” cats, letting cats roam and breed and become feral and stray.
The water flowing out is the killing of abandoned domestic cats and community cats.
The system has an inherent stability but is expensive, wasteful and deeply inhumane. It is plain wrong because we owe a responsibility to treat cats properly and in a moral way.
It is interesting that in some societies people accept the community cat even without effective trap-neuter-return policies. Morocco seems to be a case in point but we don’t know how many cats are killed by people in these societies. In Greece community cats are a tourist attraction during the holiday season and then slaughtered (poisoned) by the authorities out of season. China killed stray cats by the thousands in Beijing before the Olympics to “clean up the streets” and they eat them in some cities.
There is no doubt in my mind that the best, and only, solution, is mass and effective trap-neuter-return programmes (TNR). I believe that Local authorities and state governments in the US are gradually coming around to the idea that it works and most importantly it is cheaper than killing cats humanely. The economic sense of TNR is its greatest recommendation. If there is one thing that motives man it is money. The inhumane aspect of mass killing does not upset us, which is why, year in and year, out millions of cats are deliberately killed under the banner of “euthanasia” – not.
TNR shuts off the faucet (tap). It stops community cats breeding. If you combined widespread TNR with regulations and/or education on neutering within cat ownership the flow of cat production would be reduced to a trickle.