Communities who don’t support trap-neuter-return (TNR) are part of the problem of the cat overpopulation issue. Here’s why. I’ll use “Susan” as an example in both cases.
Susan lives in a non-TNR community
Susan came to her local shelter with a feral who has been living in her yard. She wanted to do the responsible thing so she used a humane trap to catch the kitty and brought her in to have her spayed. The lady at the intake desk had to inform Susan that the shelter does not do this and if she surrendered her cat she would be euthanized.
Susan woman took the cat back home with her where the cat will continue to have kittens in her yard. The shelter will probably see Susan back in a few months to surrender kittens. If not, those kittens will eventually mate and multiply. Susan also has other cats in her area she’d like to help but is discouraged.
Once Susan leaves the shelter she decides to call a few vets in her area. They charge an outrageous price and Susan just can’t afford them.
Susan lives in a TNR-supported community
Susan came to her local shelter with a feral who has been living in her yard. She wanted to do the responsible thing so she trapped the cat in a humane trap and brought her feral cat in to have her spayed. The lady at the intake desk explained the TNR programs in her area that are available at a variety of fees, depending on what’s done. The charges are very reasonable and she opts to get her feral cat vaccinated and tested for FeLV/FIV.
Since the program is available, Susan tells her cat loving friends about the program and they start bringing in their community/feral cats. Not only are they ‘vetted,’ but they’re also evaluated and many can be put up for adoption to indoor homes. As it turns out, several of the neighborhood cats were abandoned and joined a colony just to survive.
Why euthanasia is not the answer
Feral cat care is a major issue and a large part of the problem is the lack of understanding of what happens when the cats are simply trapped and then killed. There are other cats waiting to join the colony and this isn’t easy to do unless a cat has left the colony (whether by being killed by a car or by a wild animal or being trapped and killed at the shelter).
An excellent publication by Alley Cat Allies explains
“The Vacuum Effect has been documented worldwide in many species. Animal control’s traditional approach has been to catch and kill community cats. While this may temporarily reduce the number of community cats in a given area, it is ultimately counterproductive, as the population of cats rebounds. Due to the Vacuum Effect, untrapped cats continue to breed, and other cats move into the newly available territory.”
The Vacuum Effect is a very good argument to bring before city or county council when fighting for a local TNR program. Members of the community are usually given three minutes to state an opinion and most meetings are open to the public.
The above paragraph on the vacuum effect needs to be drummed into the heads of all community leaders because TNR has been shown in many studies to be the only effective method to control the cat population.
Please be free to add any information I may have missed. I wanted to be as brief as possible. Note: The photo I chose was in Michael’s media collection here on PoC.