Click on above to view a 5 minute spay/neuter operation used by Alley Cats in America
for their Trap Neuter and Return Programs.
TRAP NEUTER AND RETURN IS THE ANSWER
Taken from “Animal Wise Radio” interview with Nathan Winograd on the subject on TNR.
TNR, Feral Cats and Community Cats
Back in the 1980’s TNR was a controversial issue. Seminars were held where most of the animal welfare groups in attendance were anti-TNR. Today more groups are in favour of it, than against it, so we’ve come a long way.
We only have three options when dealing with cats in the communtiy;
- Cats are trapped, come into the shelter and are killed
Unsocial cats (community cats, alley cats) are generally the offspring of other outdoor cats. They have a nearly 100% chance of being killed for being unadoptable.
- Desex the cats
Now in the US the favoured solution. This has been practiced for decades in Europe.
- Leave them alone
Not a the preferred option/practical as cats are attracted to the resources of people. People care. People get upset that nothing is being done.
Other than ‘leaving the cats alone’, the only humane way to address the issue without killing is TNR.
There is no reason why shelters should prefer trapping and killing.
Cats will always live in the community. They are members of our community. Some people don’t want them around which causes conflicts. However, regardless of your goals (don’t want to kill/ want to have no cats) TNR is the only solution to reaching these goals.
If you want to control cats without resorting to lethal methods, then you must TNR. Even if you don’t care about whether the cats are killed, killing is not a solution that has ever shown any long term success.
TNR is the most effective way to manage cat populations.
People see cats outdoors, worry and then ring shelters to ask what to do. Shelters say, ‘bring the cat to us and we’ll save it’ – what are you saving it from? And are we really ’saving it’ if we kill it? We see a situation where animal shelters who claim to promote humane cat care, are encouraging people to ‘rescue’ an animal, only to put it to death.
What is rescued? When we’re dealing with unsocial animals, we’re not dealing with cats who need rescue. With or without a caretaker, they’re not just surviving, they’re thriving.
The traditional sheltering dogma is that outdoor cats are suffering. Their lives are short and miserable. When you look at the data and studies on colony cats, owned and unowned cats have similar low baselines for disease. Longevity, life expectancy are the same. 96%+ have a good to great quality of life. The cats caught in traps are healthy, robust animals.
This false notion that these cats were suffering has meant healthy cats are impounded and killed. We need to fight conventional wisdom. Groups who once opposed TNR, are now solidly on our side.
Handling community objections
“We don’t want the cats there, so we need the lethal approach to get there”
Putting aside the people see this as a zero sum game (cats mean wildlife suffer), the conventional wisdom that ‘people don’t want cats arounds’ has largely reflected the negative messages put out by cat welfare groups about cats (they should be kept indoors, outdoor cats are suffering etc.). As our messages changed, the public have come with us as we started to advocate effectively for cat welfare.
Those people who are intolerant, the ones who don’t care about the cat. We can’t meet their goals of improving wildlife outcomes through lethal methods.
- Studies show denser population of birds where there are cats (keep rats down)
- Cats allow denser populations of native birds, preying largely on other non-native species
- Even if you kill them, cats aren’t gone forever – more cats will move into the area because the area supports cats. These new cats aren’t unsterilsed and they’re unvaccinated.
Even if you believe the less cats out there the better, the only way to have that happen over the long term is TNR.
Finding out the true concerns. If the concern is that based on a 19th century public health model, that cats are spreading diseases; when you look at the data, regardless of which area you’re looking at (rabies/toxoplasmosis) they are not a great risk. Even if you can’t be convinced by the data, if you want to control disease spread, what you want to do is sterilise the cats so they’re not reproducing, get people to feed them at the same time each day so they’re not scavenging. You want to have them vaccinated. All of these things point back to TNR.
Regardless of whatever objection you throw out, TNR is the solution.
Can a community reach No kill without TNR?
No absolutely not. Without provision for unsocialised cats, you will always be killing.
Even if there were a sanctuary you could send them all to, there would still be cats in the community. The size/cost of the sanctuary would be prohibitive.
It’s expensive to not implement TNR. It reduces impounds. It reducing killing. A 10 year study in the Journal of the AVMA in Ohio, showed cat impounds and deaths were increasing, except for one community – the one who had TNR.
There is a webinar on community outreach for TNR advocates.
How do you engage the ‘wildlife’ people? How do you engage the people traditionally opposed to TNR. How can you have the discussion in your community. How do you diffuse objections?
The science of TNR is not that complicated anymore. Concerns evaporate over the years – and people want a third option for that ‘under the porch’ cat.
How do you take the message to city councils? They realise killing doesn’t work. Encouraging people not to feed, doesn’t work. While maintaining these approaches mean people who care about cats and want to do proactive programs like TNR, get pushed away – the very people they need to help with solutions.
FOR CAT LOVERS A MUST READ BOOK
A testiment to the sucess of TNR is the book The sidewalk Beauty "strays cats of Singapore" by Bian Huibin and the subsequent documentary on this book.
The thing that strikes me in looking at this book is that about 60 percent of cats photographed in this book on the streets of Singapore have their ear tipped a very notable sign that they have been TNR. A Project that Eric Yeoh our Project Director of Cat Alliance of Australia had a big part in.
TNR means they can live their lives out in their environment with being harrassed and there will be no kittens, they will be healthy and most important keep the rat/mice populations down.
Some people might say that tipping will lessen the chance of a cat being rehomed but that is not the case and in fact if you look through this book and each and every cat is beautiful and ear tipping would in no way effect its chances of adoption.
Cat Alliance has been advocating TNR for Australia since inception and we strongly believe that it is imperative to the sucess of cat control alongside compulsary desexing and microchipping.