Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Addressing TNR Comments

One person keeps making comments on this blog about being confused about how TNR works and that no one has told him/her who is responsible for what. Here's my attempt to answer these comments briefly, but for more detail about how TNR works, why it works, and why it is the best option for also protecting public health, please visit Alley Cat Allies.

The main point to remember and that those who argue against TNR seem to forget is that our outdated catch and kill method is the only other approach that has been used and has miserably failed for decades and decades. We know it has failed because feral cat populations have grown steadily instead of diminished, and these cats that are not managed by colony caretakers are not vaccinated, not fixed, and cause more issues for humans and other animals than those who are managed.

Anonymous said...

"No one can ever tell me how and who will be sure all the cats in a TNR program are vaccinated for rabies. Who will keep all of these records and who will be liable if a cat does happen to bite someone. And now with the fact that we have bats that are positive in the area and two unvaccinated cats had to be euthanized because they came into contact with the bat. It was ordered by the State health department. And how about other feline diseases that can spread rapidly. Who will have all the records of each cat if they are vaccinated."

All the cats in managed cat colonies are trapped, fixed, vaccinated and released back into their colony. In rare cases, cats can be relocated to a new territory via barn cat and similar programs (check out

Colony caretakers/feral cat groups are the ones who keep records on the cats and are responsible for them. Look to the NMSU program here in our community; they keep a database and are tracking each and every cat. TNR caretakers also provide feeding stations and dispute resolution when cats become a problem for anyone. By feeding and caring for the cats, it is less likely the cats will be out hunting or disturbing people.

Usually, TNR programs do a very good job of catching all of the cats in a colony, and this is why these programs work. With most cats in the colony fixed, vaccinated, and released, that makes it so that other cats are kept out of the colony. It stabilizes that colony and its population. When some or all cats in a colony or territory are caught and killed, it only makes it so that more cats move in and multiply that much faster. That's why there's now an estimated 60-80 million feral cat population in our country--that's above the 80 million in homes!

TNR is the only solution that has worked to reduce the population of feral, abandoned, unwanted cats. These managed colonies are much safer than the alternative for other cats and humans. Now, all the cats in our community that are loose are not vaccinated, not taken care of, etc.

As the cat populations in colonies begin to diminish over time, they naturally die off. The other plus is that most feral/wild cats do not come into contact at all with humans. You'd have to be looking for trouble to get attacked by a feral cat. They hide and do not bother anyone except for their natural prey, so TNR also helps address this issue by providing food to hungry loose cats, which then saves more of their prey.

To me, this answers your comments, Anonymous, that you say no one can answer. This also addresses the recent case of the rabid bat and the cats that "might" have come into contact with the bat that were killed. If those cats had been vaccinated even once in their lives, the chances of them being infected would have been extremely rare.

Also remember that the last time there was an incident in this nation of a domestic cat involved in a human rabies incident was back in 1975. As we know, wild animals still have issues with rabies, but our domestic animals are pretty well-protected these days because of our emphasis on vaccination for the past few decades.

Next post: I'll summarize my favorite workshop at The No Kill Conference 2009, "How to Overcome Internal Obstacles to Success".