Feral cats and humanity

Trap-neuter-return benefits the community and the kitties

National Feral Cat Day on Oct. 16 is set to raise awareness about feral cats and trap-neuter-return (TNR), the most humane and effective way to deal with feral cats in our community. Cats have lived alongside humans for thousands of years and feral cats, also called community cats, thrive in every part of the world. Feral just means a cat that is not socialized to humans.

Through TNR, outdoor cats are humanely trapped and brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. While under anesthesia, a small portion of the ear is painlessly removed to show, at a glance, that the cat has been altered. After they recover from surgery, cats are returned to their outdoor home. Studies have shown that less than 1 percent of cats that are trapped need to be euthanized because of illness.

TNR has proven to be more effective in managing cat populations and reducing the number of unwanted kittens born each year than the traditional practice of just trapping and removing stray cats, which is both costly and never-ending. Removing cats creates a “vacuum effect,” whereby other cats move in to take advantage of resources like food and shelter, and reproduction increases to fill the void.

By altering cats and returning them to their original location, the population stabilizes, and will begin to decrease over time because no new kittens are being born. Unwanted behaviors like spraying and fighting are also reduced.

TNR is also more cost effective because fewer cats enter shelters, meaning fewer cats being housed and cared for, and in the end, far fewer cats being euthanized. Chico has joined many cities and counties across the nation, including San Jose, Palm Beach County, Fla., and Atlantic City, N.J., in supporting TNR as a valid way of managing community cats.

If you have community cats in your neighborhood, call the Chico Animal Shelter (894-5630) or Neighborhood Cat Advocates (324-2292) for more info about TNR resources, including no-cost TNR. Neighborhood Cat Advocates also needs volunteers to help with TNR, a great service for our cats and our community.