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Trap-Neuter-Return: A Win-Win for Feral Cats and the Community

Our position on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR):

Animal Outreach has been involved with Trap-Neuter-Return for many years. Cape May City has been a TNR trailblazer, and started long before many other municipalities. Thus, we can see the long-term effects very clearly. The colonies live with caretakers who feed and house them. In winter, the caretakers provide small dog-house-sized shelters filled with hay. The cats are monitored for illness and injury, fed and protected. The colonies dwindle and many are now made up of only one or two aging felines. Animal Outreach is available to provide guidance, traps, and funding when needed. We remain committed to the humane approach to cat population control and care. Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us.

Alley Cat Allies (ACA) provides the following information on feral cats:

A feral cat is not socialized to humans. Though feral cats are members of the domestic cat species and are protected under state anti-cruelty laws, they are typically fearful of humans. Feral cats should not be taken to animal control pounds and shelters. Feral cats’ needs are not met by the current animal control and shelter system because animals who are not adoptable are killed. Feral cats live outside, but are killed in shelters. Even no-kill shelters are not able to place feral cats in homes. Feral kittens can be adopted. Feral kittens can often be adopted into homes, but they must be socialized at an early age. There is a critical window, and if they aren't handled in time, they will remain feral and therefore unadoptable. Feral cats can have the same life span as pet cats. And they are just as healthy, too. The incidence of disease in feral cats is just as low as in pet cats. They live healthy, natural lives on their own, content in their outdoor home. Humans are the cause of wildlife depletion. Studies show that the overwhelming cause of wildlife depletion is destruction of natural habitat due to manmade structures, chemical pollution, pesticides, and drought - not feral cats. Catch and kill doesn't work. Animal control’s endless, cruel cycle is extremely costly to taxpayers. 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, survivors breed to capacity or new cats move in. This vacuum effect is well documented.

Thank you to ACA for offering clarity on TNR:

"There's a reason why the R in TNR stands for RETURN, not relocate". Relocating feral cats to another property is not the "happy ending" the community may think it is. While removing cats from an area may initially seem like a good idea, all it really does is create a vacuum in a cat-sustaining habitat that will just be filled by more cats. In addition, cats build a connection to their home and are territorial. Once moved, they will try to find their way back. The best approach is Trap-Neuter-RETURN. The cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor home. The cats stop breeding, their motivation to roam is eliminated, and new cats are unlikely to move into their territory. Trap-Neuter-Return, not relocation, is the win-win for the cats and the community.

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“You cannot share your life with a dog…or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.”

Jane Goodall

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