Contraceptive Darts to Control Feral Cat Populations?

Contraceptive darts
Contraceptive darts and dart guns
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Noting that contraceptive darts are currently being used against wild horses in Wales to keep their population numbers down, I did a bit of Internet searching to see whether contraceptive darts had ever been used to control feral cat populations. The answer appears to be a definitive No. There may be a number of very good reasons for this. One of the reasons is probably the cost at about ยฃ50 per dart. They would also have to be modified darts for feral cats because the darts used on horses and other large wild animals are far too large. Such darts may not be available.

However, the thought of using contraceptive darts to control feral populations would appear to have some merit. It is a very speedy efficient process. There appears to be no side effects and it is a safe process. On the face of it, it could be an alternative to TNR programs. Of course, TNR programs incorporate more than just sterilising cats because veterinarians and their assistants also treat the cats if required. In addition, a cat which has undergone the TNR process has his left ear clipped which efficiently advertises to the world that he is sterilised.

Sterilising a cat with a contraceptive dart does not allow the operator to clip the cat’s ear. That is clearly a downside but nonetheless, under certain circumstances and in certain places, it may be preferable to sterilise feral cats with a dart.

People who dislike feral cats to the point where they want them eliminated would argue that if you can get near enough to a feral cat to shoot it with a contraceptive dart then why not shoot it dead with a bullet. That suggestion is all very well and good but it is inhumane. The starting point in dealing with feral cat populations is to find a humane solution and one that works in the long run. Efficient TNR programs, widely employed, do work but they need commitment and funding.

P.S. I believe that the Porcine Zona Pellucida Vaccine (ZPV) vaccine is used for contraceptive dart use.

P.P.S. Sandy has told me about a food contraceptive that was being researched years ago.

Michelle Meister-Weisbarth, a student at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine developed a genetically engineered bacterium to be used as an oral contraceptive to control the unwanted cat population. It would be delivered to feral cats using a vaccine-laden bait. See page.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

14 thoughts on “Contraceptive Darts to Control Feral Cat Populations?”

  1. The most recent issue of Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery is all about the current state of research on non-surgical options for feline sterilization. The article abstracts are available even though the content is pay walled, and it’s relevant to your question here. It sounds like these options are several years off, at best, but for the sake of the feral population, they will be welcome population-control resources when they do become available.

    1. Thanks for that. I expected this to be the case. I feel that there is a way to deal with feral cats humanely if only scientists would speed up their work. Shooting feral cats is the height of crude behavior and ineffective.

  2. Not sure you are right about that Michael “Reducing feral cat populations over time will eliminate feral cats if the exercise is carried out perfectly.” How long have we been trying to control the Rat population without success.” Granted the let-out there is “if the exercise is carried out perfectly”, but that is never going to happen is it? How long have we had a rat problem? Are feral cats any less smart? Any less adaptable?

    1. I mention the word “perfectly” – if TNR is perfectly executed across the nation it will eventually eliminate the feral cat population. The trouble is humans rarely if ever due things perfectly and never when the task is infinitely complicated.

  3. Micheal, how quickly you forget. The problem isn’t that the cats are reproducing out of control. The problem is that the ones already here are destroying all the native wildlife around the world and spreading over 3 dozen deadly diseases to all other animals and humans. Killing off all the rare marine mammals, all the way up to whales, inland otters, and even the beloved manatees of Florida. Not to mention all other native cat species around the world with their feline-specific diseases — including Florida’s own rare and endangered Florida Panther.

    Stopping them from reproducing won’t stop any of those problems that already exist. The ones that are already alive MUST be destroyed.

    Time to grow-up, Micheal! ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Let’s see if he can do it. I doubt it, but … there’s always a chance in heII.)

    1. I said you have to be polite to post here. You are not so you are banned. I don’t like being insulted especially by a person who is arrogant and does not think straight.

      Secondly, you are wrong. Reducing feral cat populations over time will eliminate feral cats if the exercise is carried out perfectly.

  4. I am firmly convinced, that nobody should be allowed to eat even one ounce of animal flesh nor let their pets eat one ounce of animal flesh until they have been forced to kill and dress that animal for consumption. Maybe then they’ll grow-up and realize that reality is not that bambi-cartoon-sing-along that they dream about in their 5-year-old’s feety-pajama’ed world.

  5. I’m guessing that you never raised a pet sheep, goat, rabbit, duck, chicken, or steer for a 4-H project and then went out back and shot it, beheaded it, or slit its throat for dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Been to any rural barbecues lately? Did they tell you the name of that slab of ribs on your plate? Did you ask if it was killed in the way that you claim is “humane”? LOL

    1. Well, you know there are a lot of vegetarian cat lovers around. Secondly, you are off-topic. I am discussing the possibility of humanely reducing the feral cat population. I am not discussing the morality of being meat eaters in 2015. If you don’t stay on topic and be polite, I’ll ban you permanently.

  6. This would be a brilliant idea Michael especially for the ferals that are trap savvy ( I have 2 like that) and never get caught unless ye use a drop trap but then ye have to stay there but out sight to use the drop trap,I really like this idea.

    1. I like the idea too. As you say there may be times when it is useful. It may speed up sterilisation programs. I think it should be explored.

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