Categories: feeding feral cats

County administrators say volunteers must remove feral cats and their shelters by Christmas Day

For four years, three women, one of whom is Maryanne Maxwell, have been caring for feral cats in Wheeling, West Virginia. They feed them and have provided makeshift shelters for them. The shelters are obviously particularly important at this time of year.

They pay for cat food and veterinary care out of their own pockets. They could hardly be more conscientious citizens. Although the report on WTRF.com does not mention that they are managing a TNR program ,which may be the problem. There is no mention of vaccinations under a TNR program.

The Ohio County Health Department Administrator, Howard Gamble has decided unequivocally without discussion or any attempt to negotiate (as I understand it) that the feral cats and their shelters must be removed by Christmas Day otherwise a contracted agency or Animal Control will remove them. This must mean death for these cats.

The ladies don’t understand why the local authority has suddenly decided to come down on them like a ton of bricks in such a devastating manner. They say that there has never been a problem or any complaints until now. Someone complained and the cats have to go.

“It’s going to be really cold, and it’s going to break our hearts to think that their beds are going to be taken away,” said Maxwell.

Gamble said:

“They can’t stay there with the number one risk which is rabies. There’s no guarantee that the cats that are sitting there are completely vaccinated and harmless,”

Am I correct in saying that if the ladies were running a TNR program the cats would have been vaccinated against rabies? Is it too late to do this? Couldn’t there have been a discussion and some help provided by the local authority to resolve the matter in a more humane and reasonable way?

The ladies are working their socks off to find homes for the cats. This implies, incidentally, that the cats are not feral but semi-feral or semi-domesticated. All the more reason perhaps to find a humane solution rather than hand down threats of euthanasia.

Gamble’s fear is rabies. I understand that because he has to protect the community. However, rabies is very rare in outside cats. The best way forward is for the authorities to work with Maxwell and her colleagues. I hope that they do so in the interests of the cats involved.



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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Rabies in outdoor cats is rare?

    It is dangerously dishonest to minimize the public health hazard represented by cat-vectored rabies merely because you're fond of cats. Prior to the development of Post-Exposure Prophylactic (PEP) inoculations, contracting rabies was essentially a death sentence--one which entailed agonized suffering.

    Since the advent of TNR and other worthless "no-kill" programs in the US, nearly one-third of human rabies exposures are now cat-vectored--that's 13,000 exposures a year for the last 28 years (Gerhold & Jessup, Zoonoses and Public Health, 2012). Were it not for the ready availability of PEP in the US, God Knows how many of those exposures would have proved fatal. With the current administration's efforts to dismantle our public health care infrastructure, now is hardly the time to further stress available medical resources by deliberately proliferating disease vectors just because you find them "cute".

    The worst incidence of human rabies exposure in US HISTORY was due to a TNR'ed feral cat colony in Concord, NH in 1994. A rabid raccoon attracted to food left out for the community-vermin cat-colony infected four of the colonies kittens with rabies–all subsequently died. But before they did the colony caretakers foisted them on a local pet store. The store sold them to the public, after which all the kittens promptly died. 665 people were exposed thereby--it cost the township of Concord $2 million to treat them. Documentation of this can be found on the CDC website (2013). I'll ask in passing: how was this colony producing KITTENS, after supposedly having been trapped, NEUTERED and released?

    In 2012 another irresponsible group of "caretakers" known as "Animal Ark" touched off another rabies exposure crisis in Carlsbad, New Mexico when some of their "community" vermin caught rabies from a skunk attracted to the cat food put out by the feeders. Only 12 people were exposed and had to be treated, but hundreds of pet cats and dogs and livestock had to be destroyed.

    In terms of epidemiology alone TNR is a catastrophe (pun intended). Subsidizing feral colonies with food concentrates them in densities beyond the environmental carrying capacity of ANY natural predator--and attracts them to human dwellings while doing so. This is a recipe for disease outbreaks.

    Well-meaning people argue that the way to prevent this is to treat cats like dogs be keeping them confined or on leashes. Dogs used to be the primary domesticated rabies vector in the US, and in countries like India they still are--as many as 30,000 Indians die from rabies annually. This threat wasn't suppressed in the US by putting dogs on leashes. It was done by eradicating feral dog packs. Stray and feral cats must likewise be eradicated

    • You'd better produce supporting evidence for your figures. You bandy around statistics like confetti. You profess to be accurate and insult those who you consider innacurate and yet you don't produce supporting hard evidence. Provide links please.

      Getting rabies from cats is incredibly rare when one considers the size of the feral cat and human population. Your future comments will be moderated because you can't be trusted.

      • He provided sources for his figures: Gerhold & Jessup, Journal of Zoonosis and Public Health, 2012, Centers for Disease Control website, 2012-2013. Feel free to research for yourself. My copy of the Zoonosis and Public Health article is in PDF--I can't give you the link, but I can provide the reference. The CDC articles are easily googled and you can get the link for yourself. Next question.

          • My copy of Gerhold & Jessup is PDF. Therefore no link (I mentioned this in my previous post, but you edited it out for some reason). However, I'm happy to list the exact reference, and you should be able to google it:

            "Zoonotic Diseases Associated with Free-Roaming Cats", R. W. Gerhold & D. A. Jessup; 2012, Blackwell Verlag GmBH--Zoonosis and Public Health

            Extensive references listed in the appendix for further reading, as well.

            In closing, I'll mention that when you alter others' arguments and/or censor them, all you accomplish is to spotlight your own lack of credibility. If you had cogent counter-arguments, you wouldn't have to do that.

  • Catching on yet? TNR is ILLEGAL in the USA. The only communities that have approved it are on a test-case basis. Soon as they prove that TNR does absolutely nothing to solve the problem (as has been proved worldwide for over 60-years now), all your TNR cats are destroyed. Free-roaming cats are ILLEGAL in the USA unless lawmakers make a temporary exemption. Soon as that exemption proves a failure they go back to destroying all free-roaming cats and heftily fining all participants of that cat-hoarders' moronic failed experiment.

    • "TNR is ILLEGAL in the USA."

      This is rubbish. Many local authorities work with volunteers on TNR programs.

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