To people who don’t like feral cats or who are ambivalent about them, one of the objections to the trap-neuter-release program (TNR) is that the people who run these programs often feed feral cats on a routine basis. You obviously have to place food within the trap but do you have to put food down on a regular basis? Putting food down on a regular basis for feral cats creates a problem in the minds of many people in a community where there are feral cats because the food attracts other animals and people perceive this as generating a health risk for the community.
There was a massive argument in Beverly Hills a number of years ago because a charming elderly woman was involved in TNR and she was feeding the cats at the same time. There were many arguments and the matter ended up with a change to the local legislation. It does tend to polarise people: feeding feral cats, when strictly speaking it seems to me the only requirement is to put food in the trap and then after the cat has undergone the operation the cat is returned to the location he or she came from.
In America, a woman, Maygen Wilson, rented a property in a place called Destin because it had a very nice backyard for her children to play in. She was pregnant with her third child. She discovered that her next-door neighbour was feeding feral cats and decided that her backyard was unsafe for her children.
We must remember that there is a lot of information on the Internet about the spreading of disease by feral cats. In my opinion it is often highly exaggerated information but there is certainly a potential risk and the general message on many websites on the Internet is that there is a genuine and real risk from contracting disease from feral cats e.g toxoplasmosis (the is a lot of ignorance about toxoplasmosis due to irresponsible and ill-informed websites).
Some people believe that the only food necessary for TNR is in the traps and feeding strays encourages abandonment of pets by irresponsible owners which in turn creates the feral cat problem.
Feeding feral cats also concentrates the cats in a small area which it is said to exacerbate problems with faeces, urine and allergies creating friction within the community. In addition, as mentioned, unless the feeding is very carefully controlled the food attracts other animals which can lead in turn to the transmission of parasites and diseases to the cats. Feral cats are then able to transmit, at least potentially, the diseases to people.
It is said that TNR should only be conducted without any feeding other than inside the traps. Apparently one of the originators and pioneers of TNR in the USA, Merritt Clifton, has spoken against feeding TNR colonies.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, please.