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Trap Neuter Return spurs debate

Every month, a volunteer force traps feral felines, fixes them and then puts them back where they came from. This method is practiced nationwide and is meant to replace the standard municipal strategy: trap and kill.

TNR proponents I spoke with for my news article “Claws Out” argue that returning fixed cats to their colonies decreases feral populations. The feline resumes its position in the neighborhood without birthing more kittens. If it were simply killed, another unfixed cat would take its place.

But I also spoke with a former city shelter veterinarian, who said TNR is unethical and inhumane. She argues without disease testing, the volunteers are just dooming the cats to long, slow deaths on the street.

There are no easy answers, but here’s what you can do:

Residents can help slow the rise of feral colonies by having their pets fixed, says Jayne Sage of New Mexico Animal Friends. She also recommends that if you start feeding feral cats, you should have them spayed or neutered. "Don't wait until there's kittens."

If you meet low-income requirements, take your animal to the shelter for free or low-cost sterilization.

Animal Humane New Mexico also offers low-income spay and neuter services.

Public Comments (3)
  • Three strikes then TNR!?  [ Wed Jun 20 2012 11:17 AM ]

    Hmmmm... maybe we should try adding TNR to our three strikes laws for repeat offenders? Bad apples don't fall far from a bad tree, so maybe some pruning is in order?

  • unhealthy life on the streets  [ Wed Jun 20 2012 4:22 PM ]

    I've always been a proponent of the "least amount of suffering possible" when it comes to animals. Sick and hungry feral cats on the streets pains me. I would rather these cats be put to peace.

    The argument "If it were simply killed, another unfixed cat would take its place" makes no sense to me. If it were killed there would be at least one less unfixed cat on the streets (as well as no feral offspring from that cat).

    Indeed the feral cat population is a hard situation philosophically, emotionally, economically...


    Last edited [6/20/12 4:33 PM]
  • TNR-Advocates "Vacuum Effect" is an absolute 100% LIE  [ Wed Jun 20 2012 7:10 PM ]

    There's an interesting study done by the Texas A&M University on TNR practices. They started out with about 12 sterilized cats. At the end of 9 months they had over 30. An increase of more than 200%, all moved in of their own volition. This isn't due to any mythical "vacuum effect" that cat-advocates spread and lie about so often. For that to have happened you would have had to remove cats to create a vacuum for others to replace them. The exact opposite happened in this study.

    Simple reason being: CATS ATTRACT CATS

    Cat scents attract cats. This is why they spray everything, to attract mates and rivals and mark territory. Cat sounds attract cats. Mewing kittens will even attract stray toms who will kill the kittens if they are not their own (basic feline behavior of any cat species).

    Another interesting finding, sterilized cats very poorly defend their territory. Any unsterilized cats which are not so docile and complacent see this as easy-pickings and move in to take over. If that cat-colony is being fed then non-sterilized cats will actually overtake the sterilized colony's food-source. If there IS any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause unsterilized cats to fill their reproductive void. Not quite the kind of "vacuum effect" that everyone had in mind.

    If you want more cats? Keep even one around. More will find you. Get rid of them all and there's no reason for other cats to come to that area. I proved this myself by getting rid of every last cat on my own land, collared or not, HUNDREDS of them. ZERO cats moved in to replace them for over TWO YEARS. Now THAT is a viable "vacuum effect"! And should even ONE cat ever step one paw on my land ever again? It too will be shot on sight. Otherwise I'll be having to shoot and bury hundreds of them again in a short time.

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