This is a feral cat story from Oneida, New York. Oneida is a city in Madison County, New York State. As is the case in many other American cities they have a group of volunteers who carry out TNR programs to try and stabilise the feral cat population. They are called the Cat Committee.
They have requested more money from the city council. They are asking for additional funding totalling $2,000. The council turned them down on a vote of 5-1.
The reason was that the work of the Cat Committee although useful is not extensive enough. They don’t do enough TNR in order to make a real difference. The program needs to be extended much wider in order for the feral cat problem to no longer be a problem.
One councillor said that the only way that trap-neuter-release programs can be effective is when about 75% of the cat population are trapped at the same time. I tend to agree that in order TNR to work it has to be widespread and properly funded by the local authority.
If it isn’t done that way the same councillor said that it is “like bailing out a sinking ship with a teacup”.
And in the discussion between the Cat Committee and the council members it came out that the limiting factor in the whole process is the cost of neutering and spaying the cats.
Veterinarians charge $89 for male cats and $129 for female cats that are trapped, and this price is a greatly reduced one compared to the normal price offered to pet owners in the community.
And if the programme is expanded the cost of veterinary fees will obviously rise and the question is whether the council can afford them. There may also be the practical issue as to whether there are enough veterinarians to do the work.
They said that they were looking at vets well outside the Madison County area in order to help. One committee member Magliocca summed it up by saying:
“The city has, for lack of a better phrase, has thrown money at different organizations with really no results… Would it be best to do a super-majority trapping all at once? Absolutely. That would cost a significant amount of money, but what limits the trappings are cost-effective vet appointments.”
They came away from the meeting by agreeing that the Cat Committee could do 3-4 times the monthly trappings they do know but need more funding. The committee said that funding wasn’t just the issue. The city as a whole need to agree to a more widespread TNR program.
It was agreed that the Cat Committee would organise a survey to find out how many colonies there are in Oneida and how many feral cats can feasibly be trapped per month and the cost at this would entail.
The story is a classic on this topic. There are probably thousands of monthly council meetings across America which discuss the same issues and face the same problems. It’s about funding by the taxpayer and the effectiveness of TNR programs. There are many people in America who believe that TNR does not work and therefore funding these programs is not a great use of taxpayer money.
I’m one of those people who believe that if TNR is funded properly and carried out in a more widespread way then it is effective. It’s a question of taking the plunge and deciding to fund properly but I guess that council members see that as a risk.
It should be remembered that TNR is carried out by volunteers. They are not demanding any pay for their work. This greatly reduces the cost. Council members should be aware of that. What they are asked to fund is only part of the operation. They are getting a great service at a discount price already.
Below are some more stories on TNR.