Logically, legally and practically TNR is the only way to deal with the feral cat problem in America

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

From ccfaw.org

On the basis that there is a feral cat problem in America (some people don’t agree there is) the only way to deal with it is through extensive TNR programs. I think this needs to be clearly stated because there are many discussions by leglislators on how to deal with feral cats.

Note: this article is about reactioning to feral cat populations. The best course of action is to take preventative measures.

There are three ways to deal with existing feral cats:

  1. accept them
  2. kill them
  3. TNR them

My understanding of the situation judging by keeping abreast with many news reports is that there are not enough people willing to accept the indefinite presence of feral cats in America. Therefore something needs to be done.

The existing law does not permit the killing by any means of feral cats. My research indicates that it is illegal to kill feral cats unless it is done humanely by trained staff or under exceptional circumstances. The general animal welfare law across all states in my opinion protects feral cats from being hunted and killed despite what hunters and cat killers say and despite the fact that police officers sometimes allow it. The underlying and unstated reason is the one stated below: how can you be sure the cat is feral?

It is impossible to create new law which allows the mass killing of feral cats by any means. This is because it is impossible to distinguish with certainty between straying domestic cats, domestic cats which are outside the home temporarily, semi-feral cats and genuine feral cats.

It would therefore be impossible to write legislation which permits people to kill feral cats only. You cannot allow, through fresh law, people to kill stray cats outside the home because it would implicate legislators in criminality. They would be liable for inciting the crime of criminal damage at the very least as the cats might have owners. They will also be liable in my opinion for inciting crimes under animal welfare laws as they exist. In any case laws which clash with existing legislation or are unworkable don’t get off the ground (e.g. Winsonsin’s attempt to permit the hunting of feral cats).

In conclusion, you can’t write laws which distinguish between feral and domestic cats because it is impractical to do so.

Therefore, there is no way to make it legal to kill feral cats en masse. In addition of course it is impractical to do so for another reason: there are too many feral cats in America. You simply cannot exterminate them. This is putting to one side for the moment the immorality of the concept.

The key to the whole situation is that as long as domestic cats (“owned cats”) are allowed outside as they are at present you cannot identify them with sufficient certainty to avoid killing them when you intend to kill feral cats.

Therefore the only humane way to reduce feral cat populations is through TNR programs (a humane process and the kindest process despite what PETA claims). People in authority are beginning to become aware of that. By default it is the only way to proceed if the authorities want to do something about feral cat populations in their city, county or state or nationally. TNR becomes more efficient and effective the more widespread it is carried out. If it is seen as inffective by some people it is because it is not carried out on a large enough scale. There should be a nationwide, government funded program!

P.S. Cat owners who allow their cats to roam should take action when he/she goes missing and complain to the police if foul play is suspected. Too many cat owners accept the loss of their cats which fosters the illegal killing of cats.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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12 Responses

  1. Susan Izzo says:

    Three years ago our colony consisted of 17 mostly unneutered cats. Today, we have 10 neutered and 1 elusive female. We lost 3 to illness and 3 to unknown causes. Kittens from the fertile female have all been homed. We continue to attempt to capture Mom.

  2. jamie says:

    I saw cats in an area about 6 yrs ago. Alot of cats, about 50. I TNR’D them. Now this colony has less than 20. Sometimes we get a dump or 2 but if friendly we hime it and if not TNR it.

  3. Elisa Black-Taylor says:

    My colony is stable now thanks to TNR. I started out with 19 cats. A few “disappeared” which I feel sure was due to coyotes. I was able to find homes for several more. All of the males have been neutered and I only have one female left. Five females were spayed before they could become pregnant. Imagine how many kittens those 5 females and 4 intact males could have produced if not for TNR. And I have documentation on every one of the spays and neuters as “proof.”

  4. Waiting For Proof says:

    In Julie K. Levy’s own words:

    “Virtually no information exists to support the contention that neutering is an effective long-term method for controlling free-roaming cat populations.”

    “Free-roaming cats do not appear to have sufficient territorial activity to prevent new arrivals from permanently joining colonies.”

    Levy, Julie K., David W. Gale, and Leslie A. Gale. “Evaluation of the Effect of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return and Adoption Program on a Free-Roaming Cat Population.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2003, 222(1)

    Or these comments from Julie K. Levy’s other study::

    “In both counties, results of analyses did not indicate a consistent reduction in per capita growth, the population multiplier, or the proportion of female cats that were pregnant.”

    “Implementation of the stage-structured model suggested that no plausible combinations of life history variables would likely allow for TNR to succeed in reducing population size, although neutering approximately 75% of the cats could achieve control (which is unrealistic), a value quite similar to results in the present study.”

    Levy, Julie K; “Analysis of the impact of trap-neuter-return programs on populations of feral cats”

    Pretty damning conclusion regarding the efficacy of TNR.

    “No plausible combinations…. would likely allow for TNR to succeed…”.

    In other words – it can’t work.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I disagree with Levy et al.

      • Elisa Black-Taylor says:

        I’ve watched my colony males run off any new males who try to come into their territory. They’re like a family and don’t like intruders.

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          I agree, Elisa. Once a colony is stabilized ( ie. neutered), it becomes a “members only club” to a great degree. I’ve seen a few exceptions but not the norm.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Because of your rudeness you can’t make more comments on this post. They will be deleted unread.

  5. Waiting For Proof says:

    Please provide just one example, from anywhere in the world, where TNR has ever eliminated, reduced, or even just stabilized a community’s cat-population; in any region larger than 1 single closed-system TNR colony. Just one, from anywhere on earth. We’ll wait. Even Julie K. Levy the head honcho of TNR research pleaded with the whole world last year to provide just ONE example so she could parade that in front of everyone to prove she was right. Not one person anywhere in the world could provide her with even ONE example.

    You have been practicing TNR in the UK for over 60 years now and all you’ve managed to do is more than double your stray cat populations by promoting and practicing TNR. Even your own TNR programs are a dismal failure and yet you still insist on telling everyone else that TNR works. XXXXXXXXX


    • Michael Broad says:

      For the reasons stated it is the only method that can be employed. That is my argument. You can search the site for instances of success stories. I have redacted parts of your comment because as usual it is gratuitously rude.

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