Summary: a lot of people consider the feral cat a nuisance animal in the United States. They see it as a predatory invasive species. The feral cat in America was put there by Americans, there’s no doubt about that. There is a public obligation to deal with that uncomfortable fact.
Political divisions of the United States
United States is divided up in a hierarchical system (my description) and at the top is the state and at the bottom are the municipalities. There are approximately 30,000 incorporated cities in the United States with varying degrees of self-rule. There are also townships and towns and above them there are counties.
In all of these legal entities there are administrators funded by the taxpayer. They provide a public service. Their role is to benefit society by coordinating issues within its purview in providing public services.
As mentioned, the only reason why the feral cat exists anywhere is because of the carelessness of humankind. There can be no other reason and therefore they are a human-created problem. Consequently the responsibility to deal them falls upon people. Who?
Feral cats are not a problem in all parts of the United States past because of differences in climate but in general they can be a problem and they are a public problem. They naturally fall within the auspices of public servants. The point that I’m getting at is that they need to be dealt with by the administrators of the municipalities, townships and counties of United States. That’s the more natural order of events.
On my reading of the situation, it is individuals i.e. volunteers who take it upon themselves to manage feral cat colonies under TNR policies. They just start doing it because they can’t bear to see animals suffering. And sometimes they get some help from public administrators but at other times they have a hard time of it as they are criticised by people who don’t want to humanely deal with feral cats. They’d rather exterminate them.
Mandatory public obligation
Might it not be better if the management of feral cats was made a mandatory public obligation? What I mean is that the administrators of counties and cities etc. should have within their list of obligations the management of feral cats. It should be the default policy of any administration be it it county or municipality level. A modest amount of public funds should be put into it.
This would put the management of feral cats on a formal footing. It would help to protect the cats because they would be formally managed and become a public asset i.e. fall within public ownership. That makes sense to me because that is exactly what they are.
The administrators of municipalities and counties etc. are obliged to maintain the street lamps, the drains and the gutters because they provide a public function. There are also obliged to clean the streets and keep the environment as ordered and as healthy as possible. It makes sense, therefore, that they should incorporate within that range of obligations the humane management of feral cats.
There is a moral obligation to deal with feral cats humanely. There is no other way and the only humane way to do this is through TNR. Even studies find that at least small populations of less than 50 feral cats are optimally dealt with through TNR programs. I’m sure that most feral cat populations in a particular area are around this sort of number.
In placing the burden of managing feral cats on the shoulders of public administrators it would automatically introduce a structure into the system as opposed to ad hoc people doing it voluntarily. These kind people are vulnerable to abuse from neighbours. There have been instances of volunteers being shot in disputes with neighbours. Some volunteers who manage feral cats do it secretly to avoid these disputes. This is not how it should be. It should be out in the open and formally organised. The structure would also mean that those people who dislike feral cats and want to harm them could be incorporated into the public discussion to create more harmony in society. I say this because sometimes volunteers managing feral cat colonies under TNR policies aggravate other people who want to see the feral cats removed. The situation needs an umbrella organisation to coordinate between volunteers and the other people in the community.