How do people engaged in trap-neuter-return distinguish between feral cats and scruffy outside cats? A story from Fox 46, an online newspaper, concerning a domestic cat got me thinking about how the good people who are engaged in trap-neuter-release programs distinguish with certainty between feral cats and domestic cats who are wandering around outside.
Some wondering domestic cats are going to look like feral cats and some feral cats are going to be semi-feral which means that they could be approached and that their behaviour will be little different to roaming outside domestic cats.
Microchipping would distinguish a domestic from feral cat but not all are microchipped. All that said I have decided that in this instance the person doing TNR is unskilled and poorly equipped.
A woman, Caroline Reames, living in Belmont, North Carolina, USA, regularly, over many years, let her 9-year-old cat, Mr Skunk, go outside. She had done it for years. On February 25 her cat did not return for three days.
Caroline saw him on the front porch looking poorly. She said that he had peed all over himself. His ear was cut (ear tipped but poorly done) and when she picked him up she noticed that his stomach had been shaved and that there were at least two incisions in his stomach.
When I read that I immediately thought that a person engaged in a trap-neuter-release programme, not far from Caroline’s house, had trapped her cat and thinking that he was female and feral had clipped the tip of his ear after attempting to perform a spaying operation on him. Perhaps they had realised quite soon into the operation that he was a male cat. They then released him. Judging by the crude ear tipping and the mistake regarding the cat’s sex the TNR person may have been unskilled as mentioned.
Caroline says she freaked out. She did not know what had happened. But she researched the matter and realised that people engaged in TNR did perform these operations.
Mr Skunk appears to have been traumatised. He hides under a bed but he has made a full recovery. Caroline has a gut feeling that there is somebody out there who does not like her cat. I think she is not quite right. I think what happened is someone wants to do something about wandering cats but not kill them and I think the person needs training.
Or was this a genuine mistake. How often does it happen? I’d think very rarely.