At 2022, PETA do NOT have an all-encompassing policy to kill feral cats as a humane solution to the misery they endure because of ill health and abuse. On many occasions I have seen Internet users criticise PETA for a policy which states that feral cats should be euthanised in order to curtail their miserable lives. These people state PETA wants to do the right thing by feral cats and remove them from this misery and early death. That is what I have read. But what, actually, is their policy as stated on their website at 2022?
Well, it is not what people say it is. PETA has several pages on feral cats and their attitude towards them. Actually, they probably have many more but I’ve seen 4 pages. One of the pages is titled: “Homeless Cats: Trapping Is the Kindest Solution”. Homeless cats include feral cats and also, of course, stray domestic cats.
Their advice is not to kill them because some stray cats are going to be domestic cats. And this is one of the big problems with any policy which states that you should euthanise feral cats. Some of them will be somebody’s pet so you simply can’t trap and euthanise them. Perhaps this simple logic is behind their suggestion that you should trap homeless cats but what do you do with them after you have trapped them? They say that you should work that out before you trap them. Trapping cats requires planning, expertise and permissions.
They suggest that you take them to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, tested for feline leukaemia, feline AIDS and treated for worm and flea infestations. They then suggest that you either take the cat home and socialise them (exceedingly rare) if they are true feral cats or “it is sometimes necessary and compassionate to have feral cats euthanised”. They suggest that you ask your veterinarian or your local shelter for help. You can take a feral cat to your shelter to be euthanised if necessary and agreed by the shelter staff.
The PETA policy, then, under this article is quite balanced and thoughtful. They provide various options one of which is to euthanize. They DO NOT have a policy which states that you should euthanise all feral cats. This appears to be a softening of their attitude as many years ago I wrote that they did want to kill feral cats.
They believe that TNR programs don’t really work because they are not “usually in the cats’ best interests” (their article: Animal Rights Uncompromised: Feral Cats).
They’ve seen too many feral cats under TNR programs suffering and dying “gruesome deaths”. As a consequence, they cannot support TNR. They receive many calls daily “about cruelty to animals” perpetrated by individuals who take pleasure in being cruel to animals. They agree that feral cats are the responsibility of humans and that we should be alleviating their suffering and ensure their safety.
They state: “We believe that it can be marginally acceptable to trap, vaccinate, alter and release feral cats when the cats are isolated from roads, people and animals who could harm them” and when they are assisted by volunteers. So, they do believe in TNR under certain restricted conditions and when they are heavily supported by volunteers. In that article they don’t say what you should do with feral cats.
However, they do have a downloadable document on how to do TNR the right way. The document includes advice for managing a feral cat colony: PETA’s advice on TNR
Therefore, PETA has an ambivalent attitude towards TNR. On the one hand they say that it does not work and on the other hand they provide advice about making it work. This means that they support TNR to a certain extent.
My interpretation of what PETA are saying about feral cats is that you should do the following with them:
- If you are willing and able, you can adopt a socialised feral cat or socialise the animal after they’ve been checked by a veterinarian and treated where necessary plus vaccinated;
- Alternatively, you can take the cat to a shelter where they might be euthanised or of course a veterinarian might do it, if they deem it necessary because of health issues et cetera;
The third alternative is to use the principles of TNR to make the feral cat’s life acceptable provided they live in an area and under circumstances which allows TNR to work satisfactorily.
It might be fair to say that PETA like anybody and everybody else struggles with how to effectively and humanely deal with the feral cat problem in America. It is almost an impossible problem because there are about 90 million feral cats in America, it is believed. With those sorts of numbers, the problem is pretty well intractable by which I mean it can’t be solved and resolved. All you can do is stabilise it as best as possible. It is another reason why killing feral cats is a hopeless suggestion because you simply can’t succeed in killing 90 million feral cats, putting aside for a moment the abject inhumanity of that suggestion and the mass uproar that would follow. Australia proves this. For years they’ve tried to kill all their feral cats without success and they have far less than America.
Below are some more articles on killing feral cats.