The Humane Society Of Tampa Bay are releasing neutered and spayed feral cats the next day under TNR programs. I am told that the usual period for female spayed cats is 7 to 10 days in a cone to prevent them from getting at their incision (I have since learnt that this is unnecessarily long). The male neutering operation is obviously much less invasive with a much faster recovery.
Having been kept in overnight they are then released back to where they came from. It looks as though people didn’t know what then happened to spayed cats but then somebody decided to find out and the result is disturbing. I’m not going to show the photographs but if you want to see them you can click on the link at the base of the page. Please read this page first! They are graphic apparently.
Sometimes the wound opens and the cat bleeds to death. Sometimes the wound becomes infected and infested with maggots. There is no follow-up care, no pain meds, nothing.
They admit that what they’re doing is not perfect and the reason why they are released back to where they came so soon is because they don’t have the space to care for the feral cats to keep them in for the required 7 to 10 days after the operation. It would appear that they accept the risk that comes with early release. It is a compromise due to financial constraints. Is this is a good idea?
This information – and it is the first time I have heard about this sort of information – is, I think, important to the thousands of trap-neuter-release programmes across the United States of America.
Please Note (update): I am an enormous fan of TNR. It is an important part of feral cat management. I don’t want to see it undermined. It is said that this story has been contrived or exaggerated by people including veterinarians who are against TNR. I am told that the Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Society has joined a witch-hunt against TNR and this story is part of their agenda.
PETA, we know, criticise TNR programs because they say it is better that the feral cats are euthanised rather than sending them back to the urban jungle to live miserable lives and die early. Well, this information, at least in part, supports that assessment and it has come as a great shock to me.
Naïvely, I had believed that TNR programs were carried out by the book. How else should they be carried out? If the programs put feral cats under an additional risk of dying then it surely fundamentally undermines TNR programs in the first place?
I would have thought, and it is easy to say this but much harder to do it, that if people operate TNR programs then they must be operated by the book and to a high standard otherwise there is a question mark as to whether they should be carried out.
Don Thompson, the executive director of the Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation said:
“For me personally, I would rather lie in a bed and have somebody provide something that would let me go to sleep peacefully then I would to say, that you’re going to cut my guts out, drop me out onto the street, and let me bleed out.”
That is the sort of thing that PETA states. Perhaps the Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Society are PETA sympathisers in respect of their TNR policy and have an agenda to denigrate TNR.
Sadly, and very reluctantly, I would have to agree that if a feral cat dies because of complications arising out of an operation under TNR program, then the program has clearly failed and that feral cat would have been better off being left alone.
That said, we can’t say that all TNR programs are failures. It may just be that this particular program operated by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay is unusual in not allowing the spayed cats sufficient time to recover from the operation. If, however, it is not unusual then this news is shocking in my view. I have a feeling that is it not that unusual and those involved in TNR accept a percentage of failures but….here is another update: judging by the comments the risk to health from spaying appears to be extremely low. Great.
I would have thought that research is required in tracking what happens to feral cats after spaying operations and I wonder if anybody has further information about that. I have never researched this point. It needs to be researched. It is critical to support TNR programs and I would hope that further studies would come to the conclusion that a very high percentage of cats recover well from spaying operations to which they have been subjected within TNR programs.
Note: in light of one or two comments the article was updated on 28th June at 07:30 GMT and again at 09:58 and again at 19:32 on 29th June and at 07:29 on 30th.