Cities in Kansas are warming to TNR programs

“I just really like cats,” said McCreary. “A cat colony caretaker is just a person with a big heart.” – McCreary does not live in Kansas but Toronto, Canada, but the same attitude runs through all the volunteers. McCreary is a cat colony caretaker as described in this article.

A Kansas National Public Radio (NPR) station, KCUR 89.3, has given me the distinct impression that cities in that state are warming to the idea of trap-neuter-release (TNR). They are seeing success but as usual wildlife conservationists and particularly bird lovers are concerned. Ornithologists consider feral cats to be very destructive of bird populations and I understand that attitude. However, I have said this before, there are no concrete statistics which inform us as to how destructive feral cats are to bird populations and sometimes there is exaggeration in order to make a point.

Ear tipped feral cat
Ear tipped feral cat. Photo: VANESSA SMETKOWSKI / FLICKR
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Having got that out of the way, it is nice to report that the city of Wichita has been debating TNR programs for months. Communities such as Salina, North Newton and Topeka have already started TNR programs and I’m told that they have “drastically” lowered the number of cats euthanised at animal shelters. Lawrence is following suit in launching a program in May.

In Wichita, Friends of Felines organise the TNR programs and have been doing so for years. They say it works because of a reduction in euthanasia rates at shelters. In 2013, 3,000 cats were euthanised in Wichita. In 2018 the number had dropped to fewer than 1000. In addition to the Friends of Felines programs there is also “freelance neutering”.

The city is debating an ordinance requiring a caregiver to be assigned to a group of cats. Each volunteer/caregiver would be assigned up to 8 cats (including their own cat companions). There would have to provide food and outdoor shelter for the animals.

In Topeka they don’t have designated caregivers but according to Susan Schmitz, a founder of Topeka Community Cat Fix, almost every feral cat colony has a caregiver.

Comment: [Link to KCUR page] – I am always interested in promoting TNR because I firmly believe in it as the only humane and decent method of managing feral cat populations. As I have said countless times before people owe this to feral cats. Nothing else will do. When it can be shown to be successful and when city councillors warm to the concept of TNR, it needs to be reported upon.

We know that PETA disagree with TNR programs. This is a shame because they have a strong voice. They believe that feral cats should be euthanised because they live difficult and miserable lives and that they are better off dead. I am one of those, and there are many people like me, who disagree with them notwithstanding that I support PETA and like what they do in general.

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