Poor TNR (trap-neuter-return) is worse than no TNR

Feeding feral cats
Feeding feral cats. Photo by wonderferret (Flickr)
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

So, poor TNR is worse than no TNR. Right? Put it another way – as a Catster writer effectively did – euthanasia of stray and feral cats is better than feeding them and people who feed stray and feral cats make people mad.

Some people, a lot of people in fact, would agree that it is better to euthanise stray or feral cats than feed them which is most often part of the TNR process.

The lady author on Catster, Meghan Lodge, thinks this. This is a quote from her article:

….pardon me. I wasn’t aware that humane euthanasia, as awful as it may sound, was so horrible in comparison to adding to the population of intact, unvaccinated homeless cats. I don’t like to see any animal die, but I also don’t like seeing people willfully contribute to the problem instead of being part of the solution….

She lives with three cats and two dogs, which surprises me. Her article is extraordinarily wrong and exaggerated. She claims that cats of a local feral cat colony close to where she lives are so inbred that they have missing eyes, ears and limbs. Uhmm, ridiculous, obviously. What Megan states is clearly complete nonsense. Feral cats are random bred and the gene pool is far wide than for pedigree cats. Genetically they are healthy.

Also a person doing TNR is not contributing to the problem but single handedly solving the problem in the area where they live. But is it too much for an individual? And do these good people succeed in trapping and neutering all the cats in the colony? Isn’t that too much to ask? Isn’t it a never ending process, too large a problem? Do they need help?

We should dismiss Meghan Lodge’s article out of hand but we should ask why does the burden of dealing with feral cats so often fall on the shoulders of a good women? It is nearly always women. They put up with a lot.

This is such a contentious issue in American society. The feral cats and the people who try and help just muddle through. There is no plan A or B or C to deal with feral cats properly. Where is the strategy?

The only way to deal with them properly is (a) to operate TNR which includes feeding and these programs should be extended and publicly funded and organized and (b) steps taken to prevent or slow down the creation of unwanted cats that become feral – education comes to mind. It should be a two-pronged attack on the problem.

It seems to me that it is too much of a burden for some individuals to operate TNR. There are heavy expenses. It takes a lot of time. So, what if a person just feeds ferals? That is very humane but is it sensible? If I saw feral cats – and we never see then in the UK – I’d feed them but would I be able to carry out an effective TNR program.

When I went to Malta to meet Martha Kane, a cat rescuer, she and her husband were battling against the odds to help the cats. They were not, as far as I am aware, trapping and neutering. I still felt she was doing good work. But is she?

There are too many questions. How successful are individuals who do their bit for feral cats? We know that TNR works but is it too hard for an individual to make it work and when it fails is it worse than no TNR because feeding feral and stray cats attracts wildlife and cat haters?

16 thoughts on “Poor TNR (trap-neuter-return) is worse than no TNR”

  1. I don’t manage a colony but have fed a stray cat or two. TNR is a great program and ear tipping makes sense especially for females because it prevents them from being subjected to a second, third, etc., surgery only for the vet to find out the deed has already been done. I don’t go for killing stray cats, they just might actually belong to someone and I don’t have the right to put down someone else’s pet. Back to my not managing a colony. In my neighborhood there seems to be only one stray at a time. A new cat doesn’t show up until the first one has been gone for a while. I have had cats show up only to be seen a few times later. Those turn out to have homes. The ones that stick around like Velcro obviously don’t. Those I have taken to a vet, first to see if they were chipped, second to get them fixed. Unfortunately some turned out to be too sick to fix according to the vet and had to be put down. One, a kitten, went to a shelter (kittens are easier to home). Another, who got injured in a cat fight, went to a cat rescue and was eventually adopted. The last one I had fixed and vaccinated so he can’t procreate anymore. Other than the sick FeLV or FIV cats I have never seen any blind or maimed cats around my house because of inbreeding. I don’t have any idea what it’s like to try and manage a colony because if there is one in my area they do a great job of keeping themselves out of sight! As far as leftover cat food the opossums and bluejays seem to know what to do with that.


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