TNR – trap-neuter-return programs can help to prevent people getting rabies from cats. This might sound strange but please read on and see whether you agree or not.
I have never thought about this before but a visitor writing a letter to the editor on the website syracuse.com states that feral cats which have been trapped, neutered and released can act as a buffer protecting outside domestic cats from rabies.
The person who wrote the letter does not explain how this works so I will have a guess. If there are a number of feral cats in a colony they are more likely to encounter wildlife and therefore more likely to encounter a rabid animal and the most common are bats.
In which case, a feral cat is more likely to contract rabies. We know that true feral cats tend to avoid contact with people because that is their nature; they are wild cats, in effect.
Accordingly, if a feral cat is rabid it presents less of a hazard to people than if a domestic cat had contracted rabies because a domestic cat is far more likely to come into contact with a person.
I think that makes sense and if it does then it is another hidden benefit to the well-known trap-neuter-release programs which are becoming ever more popular for the obvious reason that they are the only humane way to gradually reduce the population of feral cats.
If by contrast a colony of feral cats had been trapped and euthanised leaving a temporary void then at that time a domestic cat who was allowed to roam outside would be more likely to come into contact with a rabid animal which otherwise would have come into contact with feral cats. This domestic cat would be a distinct hazard to people.