Japan has decided that trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to reduce stray and feral cat populations is far superior to simply killing them. This is especially important in the run up to hosting the Olympic Games in 2020. Good news. Good to see TNR getting the backing of the authorities.
When China hosted the games in 2008 they instigated a program of mass extermination of street cats and dogs to clean up the area for tourists. That presented a poor image to the world. Japan wisely wishes to do something far more humane and decent.
The Japanese Times reports that the goal is to achieve zero-culling of feral cats.
One veterinarian, Ryunosuke Tokuda, in the city of Kumamoto has launched a TNR program to sterilise 2,000 cats in a week. She said:
“Until recently stray cats that lived in parks were captured and culled by city officials…”
But it is admitted that culling failed to solve the issue because, as we know, more stray cats fill in the gaps.
TNR means the cats are returned to their own territory which prevents new comers moving in.
In July 2016, Tokyo Governor Yuiko Koike promised to reduce the culling of stray cats and dogs to zero. One motivator for this decision is that she did not want to tarnish the image of Tokyo in preparation for the Olympic Games by being labelled a pet-culling city.
Shoko Suzuki, the director of Fuu Animal Hospital in Tokyo also said something which those who understand TNR constantly say:
“It’s the fault of us humans that the number of stray cats has increased. By conducting TNR we can raise public awareness which may reduce the number of abandoned cats and dogs.”
Also because the existence of strays is our fault it is our duty to rectify that fault in a decent way.
Other municipalities are taking up the idea of TNR by funding it and increasing public awareness of community cats.
“We are taking care of stray cats as a community, providing them with sterilisation treatments and looking after them…[with the help of volunteers] – an official of Urayasu said.
The municipality has created a smartphone app which features photos of community cats and which raises awareness which in turn makes carrying out TNR easier.
The mood music is good for TNR in Japan as I see it. The general view appears to be to reject mass killing and replace it with mass TNR.