What is PETA’s policy on TNR (trap-neuter-release) and feral cats?

PETA on TNR and feral cats
PETA on TNR and feral cats. Infographic by MikeB at PoC.
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.

“PETA’s position has never been that all feral cats should be euthanized.”

The Infographic above explains PETA’s policy on TNR and feral cats in general. There has to be an overlap between their policy on TNR and their policy on feral cats. PETA has a reputation for killing cats. Some people think that they kill them inhumanely. PETA, believe that their policy is humane. They believe that TNR is often inhumane because they feel that feral cats wandering around the urban environment live unacceptable lives. It is inhumane to leave them in that situation which is what TNR does.

Although they do qualify this policy by saying that sometimes TNR can be a humane solution because it is carried out in an environment which allows that kind of treatment. Nathan Winograd, American’s great animal advocate with respect to animal rescues and rescue charities, believes that PETA have got it completely wrong. Nathan Winograd believes that cats can be saved and his policies regarding animal rescues is all about saving lives and rehoming rescue cats. He believes that PETA kill unwanted cats unnecessarily.


There are two policies: save all feral cats or manage feral cat colonies under TNR programs against what some think is a humane treatment namely euthanize feral cats. In more brutal countries the policy is to kill them indiscriminately.

These are the two extremes of what is in truth a gray area. People who deal with feral cats work in a gray zone. It is a gray world. There are no black and white solutions. There are difficult solutions as indicated by local authorities’ failure to successfully grapple with the ‘feral cat problem’. That is my personal interpretation about TNR.

And because TNR operates in a gray world, those on one side of the argument say that TNR is bad and those on the other side of the argument so that TNR is good. The gray zone truth in the middle is where it is really at.


And in truth, all actions to deal with feral cats are indirectly an admission of failure. It is patching up the damage. It is mopping up the mess. It is reactionary. Feral cats per se are an admission of society’s failure in the process of domesticating cats. There should be no fell cats if cat domestication had been carried out properly by humankind.

Arguably, you could present a plausible argument that the domestication of the cat has been a failure because if there are 500 million feral and domestic cats in the world, half of them are feral and therefore half of them are unwanted. They are mistakes. They are the products of humankind’s carelessness.


An anti-PETA organisation said this on Facebook:

“PETAKillsAnimals.com reported, after obtaining older data from VDACS by filing public record requests under Virginia’s sunshine laws, that of the 49,737 dogs and cats PETA received between 1998 and 2019, 41,539 were killed. The reports are displayed on their site.”

So, has PETA got is wrong? The fact that they are criticised so much on this policy indicates that they have. It is the one area of their operation where they are consistently criticised. It almost blanks out all the good – and they do a massive amount of good – that they do on animal welfare such as removing greetings cards featuring the pug, a dog with inherited health issues.

Although PETA does take a fairly nuanced stance on feral cats it is not nuanced enough. I think they should review their policy and reword it to make a bit softer if only to silence the critics.


PETA want a much more powerful proactive response to feral cats from local authorities. But it is hard to achieve results as it only takes a small minority of irresponsible cat owners to create unwanted cats as the cat is a very efficient procreator.

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