Decades of euthanizing free-roaming stray and feral cats has not resulted in a sustained reduction in their numbers or improved the health and safety of communities or cats (“Time for a Cat Management Plan,” July 11, 2012). Trap and kill is not only ineffective and unpopular with citizens, it’s a poor use of limited municipal funds.The alternative is a strategy known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in which feral cats are spayed and neutered, rabies vaccinated and ear tipped to identify them as sterilized. After TNR, the cats’ health improves because they no longer reproduce and fight over mates, and nuisance behaviors are greatly reduced or eliminated. To help curb plague and other flea-borne diseases, flea control for the colony is also important.
Whereas few municipalities have enough money or manpower to trap and remove hundreds of feral cats, volunteers do exist for TNR programs. Dedicated caretakers provide food, water and shelter, watch over the health of the cats and remove any newcomers for TNR or, if a cat is tame, for adoption.
In addition to TNR for feral cats, pet cats must be spayed or neutered to prevent reproduction, kept indoors or safely confined to their property and provided with safety collars and visible identification.
If there were less scapegoating and more community support for feasible, effective and humane solutions like TNR, there would probably be fewer homeless cats in the community today.