TNR is a bit controversial right now, largely because it is misunderstood. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, Release (sometimes read as replace) and it is probably the only real solution to the problem of feral or stray cats today.
My recent post about Ugly the Cat got a lot of emotional response, but did you know that there are over 70 million feral and stray cats in the US today, many of them targets of human cruelty, others just scared and hungry. That number doesn’t include the five to seven million currently in shelters, of which 3 to 4 million will be euthanized every year. 70 percent of cats that enter shelters, and disproportionately black cats put down.
The issue with feral cats becomes quite heated when wildlife and especially wild bird lovers and organizations argue that the rising cat population negatively impacts the animal populations they so love. Most of these groups advocate wiping out feral and stray cat populations. Why should these cats have any less right to live than other wild animals, which is what they are.
Make no mistake, feral cats exist because we love cats and want them in our homes and on our laps. If it weren’t for the pet trade, and our need for companions, feral cats would likely not exist. We did this, by not spaying and neutering our cats. And, while they are wild animals, as members of the domestic cat species (just like pet cats), they are protected under state anti-cruelty laws.
From Alley Cat Allies:
Outdoor cats have existed alongside humans for 10,000 years.
They are not a new phenomenon. Feral and stray cats live and thrive in every landscape, from the inner city to rural farmland.
Feral cats are not socialized to people.
And therefore, they are not adoptable. Feral cats don’t belong indoors and are typically wary of us. However, as members of the domestic cat species (just like pet cats), they are protected under state anti-cruelty laws.
Feral cats should not be taken to pounds and shelters.
Feral cats’ needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system, where animals who are not adoptable are killed. Feral cats live full, healthy lives outdoors—but are killed in shelters. Even no-kill shelters can’t place feral cats in homes. Learn more about the reality of Feral Cats.
TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) is the only real answer to dealing with this problem. People use live animal traps baited with food, catch the feral cats then have them neutered, and finally release them back to where they were caught, allowing them to live their lives unharmed, and as happy as possible, but effectively stopping the cycle, and the growth of the problem right there, with no cruelty.
Is spay/neuter/release working? Statistics from the San Diego Department of Animal Control as of June 30, 1997 show that while the number of cats adopted or claimed by owners has remained fairly constant over the years, there has been a decrease of almost 50% in the number of cats impounded and killed, compared with 1992 (when the FCC clinics started). Before the FCC was formed, the number of cats impounded and killed had been going up 15% per year!
Catch and kill doesn’t work.
Animal control’s traditional approach for feral cats— catching and killing—is endless and cruel. Cats choose to reside in locations for two reasons: there is a food source (intended or not) and shelter. When cats are removed from a location, new cats move in or survivors breed to capacity. This vacuum-effect is well-documented.
But TNR will remove thousands of potential cats from the cycle, each of which would then have thousands of their own, and it does it without cruelty. Those who argue that these cats once released will continue to “decimate” wild bird populations should consider what damage all of the non-nuetered cat’s offspring would surly do.
TNR is promoted by the ASPCA as a humane and more effective alternative to euthanasia for managing and reducing feral cat populations as per APSCA NYCFCI feral cat sterilization guidelines.
sources: National Geographic