Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Bottom Line in all of the scapegoating of cats is...

So the anti-cat folks say:
  1. “Allowing free-ranging pet and feral cats to roam outside, breed unchecked, kill native wildlife, and spread disease is a crime against nature,” says Michael Hutchins, executive director/CEO of The Wildlife Society (TWS), North America’s scientific organization for professionals in wildlife management and conservation.
  2. “There is no perfect answer. But, in my view, the best answer is to encourage cat owners to keep their beloved pets safely indoors, to support legislation (such as leash laws for dogs) that requires pet owners to keep their cats indoors or to allow them outdoors only in enclosed catteries, and to phase out TNR cat colonies, which can become magnets for unwanted pet cats and which send the message that it’s OK to allow large congregations of cats to range freely outside and kill wildlife.”
  3. The Wildlife Society believes that TNR colonies are dumping grounds for unwanted pets.
Let’s take a look at #1: We (the TNR advocates) do NOT allow free-ranging pets to roam outside. We do adoptions of dumped cats and unwanted cats and tell everyone they have to keep the cats indoors.
Still on #1: TNR advocates do NOT allow feral cats to breed unchecked. Many of us (myself included) have spayed and neutered 20,000 feral cats and some of us even more, over the last 20 years.
#2: Local governments looking for quick fixes for the feral cat “problem” never concentrate on TNR or low cost or free spay /neuter of pets. It’s easier to say “legislation, leash laws, feeding bans.” None of these help feral cats in any way. Also #2: TNR eventually does phase out feral cat colonies. I personally have seen the demise of feral colonies I have fixed.
#3. TNR does not cause dumping of unwanted pets.I have worked in animal rescue for several decades. If people want to dump their animals, they dump them anywhere. We have had cats dumped in parking lots, on highways, anywhere you can think of. Some new cats do enter these colonies, but caretakers are vigilant and immediately notice any new cat that does manage to enter ---either by knowing all the cats, or identifying them through their eartips. They will catch these new cats and get them fixed or if the cats are tame, remove them for adoption.
Examples given by Best Friends on colonies that have been reduced through TNR:
ORCAT Project
According to the Grayvik Animal Care Center, approximately 350 stray/feral cats live in the Ocean Reef Club, an exclusive island community just south of Miami. ORCAT (Ocean Reef Club Animal Trap neuter release) is a program that was established by Ocean Reef’s homeowners in 1993 to care for the cats. Since its inception, this TNR program has reduced the community cat population from around 2,000 to 350 cats.

Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association
A dissertation by Felicia Nutter, published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (2005), evaluating TNR management programs found that a controlled study of TNR and non-TNR colonies showed that within the first two years, all TNR colonies decreased in size by an average of 36 percent, and one went extinct. Within the same time period, all non-TNR colonies increased in size by an average of 47 percent. After seven years, all TNR colonies had five or fewer cats, while the non-TNR colonies continued to increase in size. Immigration into both TNR and breeding colonies was consistent but occurred at low levels in both.

And the following statement by Veronia Lennon  is what I like to call “The Bottom Line”
In 2008 Veronica Lennon wrote the following (and I believe this is the bottom line in all of these endless debates and continuous scapegoating of cats):

The American Bird Conservancy and other avian organizations like the National Audubon Society continue to fund, endorse and advance a simplistic anti-cat campaign that does not address the real issue.
Just "keep your cats indoors"? There are millions of homeless felines that do not have that option.
If the American Bird Conservancy and "Cats Indoors!" campaign supporters were intellectually honest, they would attempt to address the problem of feline overpopulation in a meaningful way. Since they reject trap-neuter-return, here are some other ideas on how they could help:
-subsidize spay/neuter clinics
-fund research for feline oral contraceptives
-start a fleet of spay/neuter mobile units
-urge bird lovers to adopt shelter cats
-donate money to existing cat sanctuaries
-stop distributing false information and harmful propaganda
If avian advocacy groups are serious about addressing the issue of feline overpopulation in a humane way, they should prove it. They should stop wasting money on propaganda and divisive tactics and do something effective to solve the problem.
Perhaps Bryan Kortis, Executive Director of New York City's Neighborhood Cats, a group whose mission is "to make TNR a fully understood, accepted and practiced method in every community," said it best: "Ultimately the wildlife and TNR organizations want the same thing — fewer feral cats. The wildlife organizations have no realistic way to get there. We do."

Louise Holton
Alley Cat Rescue
Box 585, Mt. Rainier, MD 20712
National Free Feral Cat Spay Day is on April 27th. Get your veterinarian involved in helping to save lives!