Friday, July 20, 2018

Spay Spay Spay Away!

Its been a very long week!

It was a normal morning out there, until I got to that one spot.  Then I heard that loudmouth woman shouting from a window in the upstairs of the house.  "Bitch you don't listen do ya!  I told you to stop feeding those cats!" and then I tuned her out.  She could have threatened my life but I didn't  hear her.  I just focused on placing a food bowl and water bowl under the PUBLIC TREE on the PUBLIC GROUND between the sidewalk and the road, and hightailing it out of there.  That bowl I placed needs to feed 5 cats for a day.  It won't.  I am having someone go over this morning and place more.

This person is uneducated, in more ways than one, that this lot she is telling me I have no right to be on is partial private and partial city owned.  I am on city owned property.



Agriculture & Markets Law, section 353 effectively makes feeding bans illegal anywhere in New York State. Even though feeding is legal, other laws cannot be violated in order to do the feeding.
For example, trespassing on someone else’s property to feed cats is still a trespassing offense.
But the answer to the often asked question, “Is it legal to feed the cats on a public sidewalk?” is “Yes!” provided the feeding does not create a health hazard or nuisance.



I've been educating myself on the laws of feeding feral cats.  Here is a good article, and you can skim through it as you see fit.  I see my self here in a few cases!

https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-feral-cat-legal-issues:

https://www.nysba.org/A41338AnimalLaw/


Rochester needs one of these logo's, and a plan to go with it.




PS, I have four slots this Monday to TNR four cats.   I sure could use some help with finances, as these cost me $80 per cat.  This is out of my pocket, when really it should be paid for by the city.  I am doing them a favor.  Please consider any amount - call Rochester Community Animal Clinic at  585-288-0600 to make a donation in honor of the future kittens born in Rochester.  Thank you.

Have a great day!





Thursday, July 19, 2018

Gotham City

And I'm Catwoman.  But a GOOD Catwoman.  Rochester is Gotham.  But a BAD city.  Right now that is, for the homeless and feral population of cats.

Trouble may be brewing again from a phone call I received yesterday, which went into my voice mail.  I did not call the caller back, but it relates to the shelter I have ....  somewhere, and the rotten woman that lives next door there and screams at me that her nephews can't even come out to play with the vicious cats that live there.   She must have called the city.  These cats are the 5 sweet and ELDERLY cats that I've been feeding for nearly 10 years now - that are all spayed and neutered - two reds, three calicos - and who run from me if I have someone with me when I get out of the car.  This is the woman that lives in the house next to the lot that is half private property, and half city property.  I looked it up to verify.  My shelter is on city side.  It is so obscure in the back of this lot, hidden by long grass and weeds (the city mowers mow right up to it), that I've not had a problem feeding in years until the day I happen to put some bowls by the tree next to the road (completely legal to feed between sidewalk and road) and they saw me, after coming from the shelter in the back.  Then the 4 am. screaming began, as if I was a mile away and couldn't hear her.  She says she is scared and wants me to get rid of them.  Sure, that's easy lady.  I would love to take them all with me and never look at your screaming face again.  But ya can't take them.  If I could take them, I would have to also take the 100 other cats that run to me each day also.  Easy.  No problem. 



And now the city wants to remove my shelters.  The only homes these cats have, and have known for their little short lives.  The only protection they have from the rainstorms and blizzards we get frequently here in Rochester.




This is really the only thing I can write today, but I do want to draft a letter to this city official.  Anyone care to start it for me?

It should be about the shelters and how they provide the security for cats to come so that I can trap and neuter/spay them.  Without them, this city will be overrun with cats without getting them spayed and neutered.  And it has to start with the shelters where they trust the food will be there.

I have to run, but would love some feedback.

Thanks and have a great day!

"Love and hate
are such
strong words, 
they also 
cause so much 
pain."



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Red Cats!

So, some good news is that Jamie is being adopted, and Jack has a meet and greet tonight!    The family that wants Jamie went to meet him yesterday and fell in love.  He will go to his new home this Sunday.  Lets keep our fingers crossed for Jack!

Jack

Jamie

Tonight, my friend will stop over after work to meet JP.  Her BF, who is a business owner, recently adopted a little older kitty, a girl, for his office.  She is very content there, but lonely.  We may introduce the two of them this Saturday to see if it will work out.  JP was the last of the litter that I trapped on Garson three weeks ago.  They have all come a long way, with Junebug and Patches already adopted (Junebug just about), but JP is more shier than the rest of them.  KC is too, but JP - because he is not as 'pretty' as the others, might be harder to adopt out, so my friend is willing to take him over KC, for just this reason.  (But he's still cute!)  Thank you JACK - and your BF too! 

The cat I had trapped yesterday didn't have to spend the entire night on my porch last evening.  We let him back to his colony (although I've never seen him there - Garson Avenue - before).  I made sure he wasn't too groggy from the anesthesia given during his surgery, gave him some food, which he wouldn't eat, and told him I would let him out.  I love being able to get a finger inside the cage where he can't immediately bite me to give him a little touch, a human touch, which might be the only one he will ever know, before he is let back out.  He ran like the devil when the trap door opened.




So some interesting stuff happened yesterday.  I've mentioned how I've been setting a trap for a little fluffy red kitten on Parsells that was seen two Saturdays ago.  I set a trap every day, but got nothing but a larger cat, and a baby skunk.  I finally gave up after not seeing the kitten.  I then set an adult trap there on Tuesday morning, and caught a raccoon.  I was hoping to trap the mother of this kitten, at least.  This is the location where I rescued 'hurricane' Harvey and 'hurricane' Huey, who were nursed by Kristin due to severe eye issues, and their need for more attention than I could give them.  Around that time, I did several TNR's of several red cats there, and thought I had them all.  I thought i had trapped all the kittens too.  Come to find out months ago, a man who works at the business there saw my flier I keep at the shelter on City property and wrote me telling me that he had rescued a small red kitten around that time, and took her home, nursed her eye issues as well, and named her Miss Macaroni and Cheese.  She is Harvey and Huey's sister.  Then come to find out, this couple (his girlfriend) had been following my blog and saw that I had Lolly and Pop available for adoption, and wanted to adopt them!  Long story short, Lolly and Pop are now Donny and Marie, and living the good life with Miss Mac'n'cheese.





PARSELLS CATS

Yesterday I received a note from a couple, who come to find out, live RIGHT BEHIND THE VACANT LOT  there on Parsells!  Get a load of this!

"Hi, thank you for helping the cats. We are at ## Melville St. and are
feeding about 12 cats daily. We also have a new mom with 4 kittens.
coming from the Parsells Ave. Vacant house. Tom 585-###-####"

So I wrote back:

Hello!  I received your note, and thank YOU so much for your care and concern for these cats.  They are actually ‘community cats’ (see link below), and I feed and care for them as well.  I have a little hut structure in the vacant lot behind you!  I have RESCUED a number of cats from this property over the past couple of years – both cats and kittens – and have had them vetted, spayed/neutered, and found them good homes.  I also set traps for the new ones I see for TNR (trap, neuter, return).  I take them to the clinic on Bay Street for spaying, rabies and distemper shots, and if they are not adoptable, I have to return them to the location.  I saw a baby fluffy red kitten there a week before this past Saturday, and set a trap every day in hopes to get it.  But no luck.  You say there is a number of them?  Can you guess how old?  Are they walking/running around?  Can you tell me what color the mother is? 

I will continue to set a trap for them as long as I can and have clinic spots available to me.  These cats are there through no fault of their own.  They are the result of people letting their kittens grow into adults without spay and neuter, and have no where to go when they display spraying behavior from not being fixed or have fleas, and get kicked out of the house.

I just thought of something!  No wonder the cats are not going into the trap I set.  You have food out for them!  J  Is there any way you can remove the food on Monday and Wednesday afternoons?  I try to set a trap there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and if they are hungry, they will go into the trap.  If there is food available, they will not.

Also, on Monday, the 23rd, I will be setting a trap there as well, so if you could remove your food on Sunday afternoon, the 22nd.  I am sure, that with collaboration, we can reduce the number of cats there!  Thank you so much for your compassion!




And they wrote back:

"Janine,
Hello back,
I spoke with Chuck @ (#############) he tells me that he is building a shelter on his site. He told me the City lot shelter was in jeopardy and would be safer on his side of the fence. We also have a sheltered feed and water station set up. It's being used by a number of local cats, skunks, possums and the occasional raccoon. We currently pull food and water in the PM due to the potential for raccoon problems.

The new kitten batch includes 2 orange, 1 orange and white, and a Tortoiseshell  they are  about 4/5weeks old, mom is also a Tortoiseshell. They are not weaned yet but, just starting to play hide and pounce. Please note however, they still tip over a lot.

As of this morning a new Tortoiseshell kitten showed up and has tried to adopt me. It is just barely old enough to be on its own but, did eat some dry food and have a drink. We do not know where its mother might be. It is currently safe in our kitten friendly back yard but, can't become a permanent resident unless fixed.

We have been here over thirty years and are VERY aware of the pet dumping and lack of care being provided by poor pet owners. We have rescued and placed many "critters" during our time here. We also are currently owned by 4 of the rescues.
Edie and I will continue to maintain a water and feeding station for your returns. We would like a week or two more before we trap the clowder. They are a source of great amusement for us during their new exploration period.  (NOTE:  I will need to educate these folks that the longer kittens are out there, the more feral they become, and not adoptable).

You can consider taking the 1 Melville St. site off your to do list. Let us know what we need to do take over the site.


Thank you for your efforts!"

I am not quite sure what they meant in that last sentence, but I will ask.  Wouldn't it be WONDERFUL! to have one of my colonies cared for by someone else!  WOO HOO!  I won't get my hopes up.  There is so much emotion involved with all the cats I feed.  They LOVE me!  At least three of those red adult cats now sidle up to me and love my scratches and pats. 

I will keep you all posted, but I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know that there are many GOOD people out there in these neighborhoods!  People that CARE!  Thank you Chuck and Danielle, and thank you Tom and Edie! 

Have a great day!




Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ugh.

Humans are amazing creatures.  Some are amazingly and inherently good.  Some are inherently not so good.  Some keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again.  Elizabeth Taylor, now wasn't she married 7 times, or something like that?  She must have been making the same mistake over and over - choosing the wrong type of guy?  Was she drinking too much and the husbands left HER?  Who knows, we ALL have our issues, for sure.

Personally, I have a one income household.  I have a lot of cats too.  I have a lot of bills too.  I also have a part time job where I feed over 100 cats a day that costs me $100+ per week, and try to get at least one cat a week spayed and neutered to the tune of $80 per cat.   I have an admin job where I stopped getting raises years ago because I was at the top of my pay grade, and my title was demoted.  I live paycheck to paycheck.  TMI.

I would never consider adopting a cat, yes, I have enough.  Most of the cats I have are rescues that no one would adopt for one reason or another.  The latest is Jules.  I don't think he will ever get adopted.  And most of my cats have issues.  Some are just elderly, and some have behavioral issues.  Jules has been bullied since I rescued him (he was very sickly looking and I thought it was his time to get off the street) by my other cats.  He was semi-sweet back then, but now he is slightly aggressive because of the bullying.   Now, I would never consider getting rid of any of them.  Boy have there been times where I have wanted to.  No doubt.  But these cats are my family.  No matter what, I would not trade them for the world.  (well..... ).





I received a message last evening from a former adopter.  She adopted a kitten from me the summer of 2016.  Back then, I was more lax about adoptions, before I was granted my 501c3 status.  I was more trusting.  I let this person take this kitten home without delivering first, and without the kitten being neutered, but a promise was left that he would be.  Well, things didn't go as planned and I was blocked from all contact with this person, and then I panicked.  I won't get into it again, but you can read all about it if you do a search on this blog for the name 'Sparky'. 

The message I received was this:  'hey me and Bill are getting divorced he literally walked out on us new years day i just left lawyers office and we are gonna end up moving i need you to take or if you know someone sparky and gizzy i can't and i know you are the best so can u take them or do u know someone who can.'

Now, I KNOW we all get into predicaments in life.  But this woman has TWO cats and TWO dogs.   And she has to? leave all of them behind.  WTF.  I don't want to criticize, I really don't.  But this is the epitome of irresponsibility.  I almost adopted out a kitten to her last year after she asked me.  I was told back in the beginning of the drama that this was something she had done before.  This person also has a teen aged daughter.  What must this daughter be feeling.  What am I supposed to do now with two two-year old cats?  This just happened early this year with Parsley and Hermie!  And they still are not adopted!  They are with a foster that - if we are honest - was and is hoping for a home for them soon!  HOW CAN PEOPLE DO THIS?  I can't even begin to process this.  I haven't even responded to her, yet.

On another note, I trapped a baby daddy this morning on Garson. I think it might be Junebug, Patches, JP and KC's dad.  He is a big old fluffy red and white male.  I was trying to get the unspayed mom.  At first, I trapped a tabby with a tipped ear.  And at the second trap I set on Parsells #3 I got a raccoon.  I am thankful this big fella went in because he will not be able to produce any more babies after today!



Have a great day.

"I've met many
irresponsible people in
my life but never an
irresponsible cat."

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Big Picture

So, I posted something about a cat that was pregnant after someone reached out to me to see if I could find a home for this pregnant cat, that would eventually have kittens, most likely between 4 and 6 of them.  I posted it as a courtesy on Facebook and had several people start out with 'oh I wish I could, but .... "  - and then I reached out to a rescue group for help - not always expecting the help, but oh so grateful when they do.  I told the girl in the group, that I owe her.  I actually owe a lot to several rescue groups for stepping up for me.  Then there was a comment on this post about having the cat spayed, which meant aborting the fetuses.  Well, that started a huge controversy, with one comment calling the person that stated it an 'asshole'.  Then, when I corrected this person, and asked her to not make such an emotionally charged rude comment, she wound up calling ME an asshole.  And guess what, this girl adopted a kitten from me last year. 

While I am on the fence with the whole abortion issue for humans, and I certainly won't get into it here, when it comes to spaying a pregnant cat, I am for it.  I have been going out every day of my life for over 20 years and feeding feral, stray and abandoned cats - and doing my best to spay and neuter through TNR.  I also rescue hundreds and find them homes.  And those ones are spayed and neutered.  And so are all the kittens I've rescued over the years.  They don't go to new homes until they are.  But through the years, I've seen more and more cats out there, and its getting worse. 

Just in the past month, I've seen three pregnant females, and rescued two litters of kittens from the streets.  I wish (not really) that I had statistics from shelters locally of their kill rate - cats - kittens ...  I am sure its a horrible number, even if it were just one.

Here are some facts, ma'am. 




We talk to a lot of people who can’t understand why we advocate the spaying of pregnant females, which subsequently aborts her kittens. To explain our stance on this, and many animal welfare organizations like ours, please keep reading.
While it is certainly something we don’t like to do, the truth is that every Spring, the animal shelters, humane societies, and rescues are overloaded with kittens. The sad reality is that many have to be euthanized because there just aren’t enough homes for them all. Signs for Free Kittens will be posted all over the place, kittens will be given to anyone willing to take them, with little value being placed on their lives. Even worse, people get desperate and will dump kittens on the side of the road, left in dumpsters, drowned in creeks or just left to starve and die alone. We see it every Spring. We know it is happening.
There is a safe, humane and proven solution to the feline overpopulation problem. TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). And while it’s not a fun concept to digest, it is VITAL that we spay/abort a pregnant cat. While no one wants to abort kittens, unfortunately, it is necessary.

Here are the Facts

  • When a pregnant cat is allowed to have her kittens, even if good homes are found for them, you can bet that there are that many bright eyed little fluff balls in the local kill shelters that will have to killed for lack of homes.
  • Many kittens born will wind up as Free Kittens. Often these kittens are given away to irresponsible people who allow them to breed, or worse, they are taken for snake food, dog fighting bait or picked up by “bunchers” who sell them to Class B Animal Dealers for use in research. Read more on this.
  • Allowing a feral or stray cat to have her kittens can complicate future trapping in the area. Mom might be nursing her dependent kittens and if taken in by someone this would leave her defenseless offspring to starve and fall prey to predators or cruel individuals.
  • Often homeless strays or feral cats don’t get the proper nutrition to have a healthy litter. In Spring of 2006, we had a cat give birth in a garage the night before she was to be taken to be spayed. The yowling during birth was horrifying and the next day we had to bury her still-born kittens.
  • A homeless female cat has to care for her kittens until she can ween them and teach them how to fend for themselves in a hazardous environment. She will do anything to care for them, even putting her own life in danger. One cat, Toby, was found with a broken leg on the side of the road next to his dead mother who had been hit by a car.

The Big Picture

If you are still not compelled to do right by a pregnant cat and have her spayed, please call us so we can talk. We are here to help you help the cats in need, and while no one wants to think about aborting kittens, the alternative is far worse, killing bright eyed kittens because there just aren’t any homes left for them. By humanely aborting  kittens in-utero, you are helping to find homes for kittens that already exist. It is imperative that we look at the big picture.
We must fix every cat we can, even if the cat is pregnant.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Did you know.................









Well, its Wednesday – a Friday for me at work.  I have family coming in from out-of-state and have lots of keen family fun planned until Sunday.  I won’t be posting my blog, so please, if you go into a deep depression over it, you can always refer to old blog posts, maybe go back to the beginning!  Ha ha. 😻😻😻

I have a total of 8 kittens.  Two of the six are adopted, two adoptions are pending, and four are still waiting for a home.  Those four are Jamie, Jack, JC and KC.  Three boys and a girl.  They are all adorable, and ready to rock.  I had SIX kittens in for spay/neuter yesterday at the clinic.  Two more are going in for spay and neuter tomorrow.  Lolly and Pop, who are now called Donny and Marie by their new parents.  Jazzy’s name is being changed to Birdy.  Julie’s name has been changed to Egypt.  Saffy’s name was changed to Gwen.  Gwen and Egypt were adopted by the same family.  Junebug is going to be named Daisy after she is adopted, when she joins her big brother Gatsby. 

I set the trap on Parsells #3 location this morning, the kitten trap, as I have been every day since I saw a baby red kitten there on Saturday, and today, I didn’t trap a kitten, but I did trap a KIT (baby skunk).  Oh Lordy.  I had to think fast when I saw the kit in the trap, so I grabbed a towel, threw it over the trap, opened the trap door very carefully, and had to turn it upside down and shake it gently because the skunk was holding on for dear life.  Prior to me approaching the trap, I noticed another youngster hanging out at the trap wondering why its sibling was inside the cage.  After release, the two skedaddled away together, leaving no scent behind.  Thank GOD!  That could have been a MESS!

Here are some fun facts about skunks!



Skunks are small, furry animals with black and white stripes. Some skunks are striped, and some are spotted or have swirl patterns on their fur. No matter the pattern, the black-and-white coloring is a warning sign to anyone who may harm this small creature. They pack a wallop of a defense mechanism — noxious odors produced from their well-developed scent glands. 
Size
Skunks are typically around the size of house cats. They grow to 8 to 19 inches (20 to 48 centimeters) long and weigh around 7 ounces to 14 lbs. (198 grams to 6 kilograms). Their tail adds another 5 to 15 inches (13 to 38 cm) to their length.
The Eastern hog-nosed skunk is the largest of all the skunk species. It typically grows to 27.56 to 31.50 inches (70 to 80 cm) and weighs 4.41 to 9.91 lbs. (2 to 4.5 kg).

 Habitat

These small stinkers are found in the United States, Canada, South America and Mexico. Stink badgers, which were recently considered part of the skunk family, are found in Indonesia and the Philippines. 
Skunks live in forest edges, woodlands, grasslands and deserts. They typically make their homes in abandoned burrows, but will also live in abandoned buildings, under large rocks and in hollow logs.
Habits
The skunk’s most memorable trait is its smell. When frightened, skunks will shoot a smelly, oily substance from a gland underneath their tails with a range of up to 10 feet.  The scent from this gland can last for days, but isn’t harmful. Most animals leave skunks alone unless they can’t find other prey. Before spraying, a spotted skunk will do a handstand on its front paws and aim its tail without taking its eyes off its attacker.

It is important to remember that most skunks are not aggressive and won’t harm humans unless they are threatened.
Skunks are nocturnal and forage for food while most animals and humans sleep. Though you typically see skunks by themselves, they gather to mate. A group of skunks are called a surfeit.
Diet
Skunks are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and vegetation. Their diet consists of plants, insects, larvae, worms, fruit, eggs, reptiles, small mammals and fish.
Offspring
Little is known about the biology of stink badgers.
Female skunks give birth every year. Their gestation period often lasts around two months and they give birth to two to 10 offspring at a time. 
Baby skunks are called kits. Kits are blind when born, since their eyes are sealed shut until around the age of 3 weeks. They are weaned at 2 months old. After they are weaned, they leave the den and at to 10 to 12 months old they are ready to have their own kits.
Skunks have very short lives and often live only around three years. In captivity they can live a little longer, usually seven to eight years.
Other facts
Before spraying, a skunk will often charge at an attacker, stomp its front legs or hiss.
Skunk are one of four wild animals considered to be primary carriers of the rabies virus.

The Eastern spotted skunk is the only skunk that can climb trees. 


I do not get a break, however, from doing what I do every single day for the past 20 years.  That is getting up at 2 am. to ready myself to leave the house at 3:40 am. with 40+ pounds of dry food, six large containers of wet food, and four huge jugs of water, enough to fill nearly 30 bowls of food, at 19 different locations, sometimes stopping midway between locations when I see a lone stray cat. 

I will be setting a trap tomorrow, as I've now seen two pregnant cats - I have no set appointment at a clinic but I will just hope for the best that one will take a cat if I trap it.  It must be done.  We CANNOT have any more kittens being born, not under my watch.

Get a load of these FACTS!  

  • Each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the United States.  Approximately 40,000 of them will end up abandoned to the streets up at a shelter or rescue organization. (Source: Spay USA)

  • Approximately 55% of dogs and puppies and 71% of cats and kittens entering shelters are euthanized. (Source: National Council on Pet Population)

  • There are 6-8 million cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year. (Source: Doris Day Foundation)

  • Two of the top ten reasons for relinquishing a pet to a shelter or rescue organization are too many pets in the home and/or unable to find homes for littermates (Source: National Council on Pet Population)

  • The main reason for cat overpopulation is feral, free-roaming, un-owned cats. (Source: Save Our Strays)

  • Shelters to house and care for dogs and cats due to the shortage of homes spend over $2 billion annually.  (Source: Business Wire Features)

  • Average number of litters a female cat can produce each year is 3, with between 4-6 kittens in each litter. (Source: Humane Society of the United States)

  • One female cat, her mate, and her offspring can produce 11,606,077 cats in 9 years (Source: Spay USA)

  • Average number of litters a female dog can produce each year is 2, with between 6-10 puppies in each litter. (Source: Humane Society of United States)


  • One unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in 6 years. (Source: Spay USA)



Pretty grim statistics!  PLEASE SPAY AND NEUTER!

Have a nice day!


“All that we are
Is the result of
What we have
Thought.  The mind
Is everything.
What we think we

Become.”


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TNR

So my TNR days have been cut dramatically this past year.  The clinic I use has changed up their program a bit and are allowing only so many spots per month.  It used to be where I would be able to bring in at least two cats per week.  The sad part of this is that there are a ton of cats on my route now that need to be spayed and neutered.  There are pregnant cats, and there is a kitten that I know of that I just can't trap.  I can't do it alone.  I can't feed OVER 100 cats and trap at the same time.  I wish others would offer thier time.  To make an appointment somewhere, and go out and trap a cat or two for me.  While I am busying driving around feeding the cats at over 18 other locations on a daily basis.

Its frustrating for me because I formed a 501c3 for myself to receive a bit more help than I normally would receive, and people think I just rescue cats.  That I can fix THEIR problems.  I got home yesterday to workers next door that will be replacing a ceiling fan for me - I went over to get the estimate, and told them I was a 501c3 rescue.  Immediately this guy said 'oh, i've got a tenant that says she has cats living under her porch. - can you get them?'  I said, is she feeding them?  He said NO, they eat enough around there, rats, rodents, etc.'   Sure buddy, they are well fed trying to kill another animal to stay alive.  And I am sure they have plenty of water to go along with their daily meal. 

I offered him to borrow some traps of mine and get them himself.

I can't help everyone!  We have to take responsibility, ask for advice, borrow a trap, make a plan!  These animals depend on us!

This is a great article on TNR.  Scroll through this.  Very interesting stuff.

THE BENEFITS OF FERAL CAT TNR PROGRAMS VS. EUTHANASIA

The Benefits of Feral Cat TNR Programs vs. Euthanasia
Feral and stray cats are the greatest source of cat overpopulation in the United States. A large percentage of feral cats are euthanized each year and governments are trying to implement “catch and kill” programs to decrease the cat population. Feral cats deserve to be treated humanely and be given a chance at a healthy outdoor life. Wikipedia defines a feral cat as a free-roaming cat that is born and raised in the wild. A stray cat is a pet cat that has been abandoned or lost and has reverted back to its “wild” instinctual self in order to survive. These cats have also been referred to as alley cats, street cats, or outside cats.
In the U.S. alone, only 3% of free-roaming cats are neutered or spayed, leaving all the unneutered cats to continue reproducing and growing the feral cat population. One female cat has the ability to produce roughly 100 kittens in seven years1. This high rate of reproduction among feral cats is why feral cats account for 80% of the cats that barrage animal shelters. In California alone, animal control agencies and shelters for cat-related expenses spend more than $50 million per year.
Sadly, out of the 80% of feral cats that are turned in to animal shelters, 72% of these cats are subjected to euthanasia. Once a cat is turned in at a pound or shelter, there are only 3 possible outcomes for that cat: being adopted; reunited with their owner; or, being euthanized.

WHAT IS TRAP-NEUTER-RETURN?

One of the most popular programs currently in practice for feral and stray cats is the trap-neuter-return program, also referred to as TNR. This program is a non-lethal method to reduce the feral cat population and involves humanely trapping feral cats, having them spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ideally cleaned, and then returning them to their cat colony to live out their lives, receiving ongoing care in the outdoors.
This method of controlling the cat population is remarkably more cost effective than trapping and killing feral cats. TNR costs roughly $50-$60 for the entire process, while it generally costs roughly $100-$105 to euthanize a cat. There are even a few TNR programs throughout the U.S. that cover the full cost for TNR, making the expense for the individual trapping the cat $0.

HOW TNR WORKS

If you are thinking about attempting TNR, it is important to be educated on how it works and what happens when the cat is taken to the vet. Perhaps attend a training workshop, or watch the Humane Society's training video. Then, make sure to find a feral-friendly vet to perform the procedure. In the best of feral clinics, once the cat is trapped and turned into the vet to get spayed or neutered, the vet will do a full examination to check for illnesses, wounds, etc. The cat will then have surgery to get neutered. While the cat is under for surgery, the vet will give the feral cat a vaccination for rabies and, ideally, a flea treatment and a treatment for internal parasites. A great vet will also clean the cat, and treat any wounds that the feral cat may have. After a feral cat has been spayed/neutered the vet may also notch or tip the left ear so that it can be identified as a cat that has already been trapped and neutered.

STEPS TO PERFORM TNR

One thing people do not realize is that there are proper ways to perform trap-neuter-release (TNR) on feral cats. It is important to understand how TNR works and how to properly execute the procedure before attempting it on your own, so read below and also try to attend a local training session if one is available to you.
  1. Obtain a Live Feral Cat Trap: The trickiest part of the TNR program is humanely and safely trapping the feral cat. Live feral cat traps are made for the purpose of this task. Many organizations and shelters provide free rentals of live cat traps. These programs sometimes offer a course on how to properly trap a feral cat before you can obtain your free rental. If you are unsure of how to trap a feral cat or have any concerns, it may be in your best interest to take a course before attempting to trap a cat. If you plan on participating in the TNR program regularly or are a colony leader, you may want to consider purchasing your own live feral cat trap. These traps typically run anywhere from $50 to $80 depending on the size and complexity of the trap.
  2. Inform Your Neighbors: One thing to keep in mind before you decide on setting your trap is to inform your neighbors that have cats or small dogs when you are going to set the trap. You would not want a pet cat or dog accidentally getting trapped instead of the intended feral cat.
  3. Bait and Set the Trap: If you regularly feed feral cats, the best time to try and trap a cat is at the cat’s normal feeding time. The most effective method to get the cat into the trap is to put a small spoonful of wet cat food inside the trap. If the trap is a 2-door trap, always make sure the rear door of the trap is secured. Some people choose to camouflage the trap with a cover. It is extremely important to make sure the proper size trap is used. For feral cats the dimensions of the trap should be approximately 32"L x 10"W x 12"H. Note: Never Leave the Trap Unattended For Long Periods of Time It is important to stay around the area in which you set the trap. Once a cat is trapped, it is important to put them in a safe and quiet place afterwards. Trapped cats left out in the open can be vulnerable to other wild animals and people. It is suggested that you check the trap every 30 minutes.
  4. What to Do with a Trapped Cat: Once the cat is caught, make sure to completely cover the trap; this will help calm the cat. Always check the trapped cat to make sure that they have not previously participated in the TNR program - this can be identified a notched or tipped left ear. Important: Never try to trap a nursing feline mother. If the mother cat is trapped it is possible that her kittens could starve or be susceptible to predators. Make sure to check the trapped cat to see if it is nursing; indications of this can be enlarged and pinkish nipples and matted fur surrounding them. If you have trapped a lactating female, you have the option of releasing it or taking it to the vet and having it spayed and released the same day.
  5. Caring for the Cat Before Surgery: If the cat is trapped outside of normal vet or organization hours, you will need to hold the cat overnight until you can take it to your local TNR program. Do not feed the cat, an empty stomach is required for anesthesia, but you may give the cat water inside its trap. To prevent the feral cat from creating a lot of noise, keep the trap covered and in a closed quiet room. Keep any children or other pets away from the cat. It is suggested that you put newspaper under the trap so that the cat can go to the bathroom without making a mess. Make sure to change the dirty newspaper often.
  6. Take the Cat to a Vet or Shelter: Not all veterinarian practices participate in TNR programs, so make sure to check with your local vet or contact your local TNR programs. During working hours, as soon as possible, take the trapped cat to the vet or other organization that will be performing the neutering. The vet will let you know when you can pick up the cat. Not all veterinarian practices participate in TNR programs so make sure to check with your local vet or local TNR programs.
  7. Release the Cat: Always make sure to release a cat back to the same place that it was trapped. Most feral cats are part of a colony of cats and it is important that they be released back into that colony. The best time to release a cat is very early in the morning or at dusk so that the darkness can provide security and cover for the cat.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS, DEBUNKED

1. MOST FERAL CATS ARE IN GOOD HEALTH

Many people believe that feral cats are unhealthy and carry diseases that could potentially put humans and their pets at risk. According to Alley Cat, out of all of the feral cats that were examined to be spayed or neutered, less than half of one-percent (0.05) were euthanized due to medical issues. This means that almost the entire feral cat population is healthy and not carrying any diseases that could harm your pets. When cats are brought into shelters or vets through the TNR program they are given a full examination and then they are vaccinated for rabies and other diseases and given flea and parasite treatment. Any wounds that the cat may have are also repaired and treated. TNR programs will not release a cat that is too unhealthy, or that is unfit to survive in the wild. In actuality, by participating in the TNR program, cats are likely to be healthier than if left to their own devices.

2. FREE-ROAMING CATS ARE NOT SUFFERING WHEN THEY ARE LIVING OUTDOORS

There is a common misconception that the quality of life for free-roaming cats is extremely poor and that they live a life of suffering. This is indeed false. Just like any other wild animal, cats are born with instinctual survival skills and can live comfortably in the wild. They are able to find shelter if they need it and hunt for their food. Feral cats will adapt to their environment just like a squirrel would.

3. FEEDING BANS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION

One belief that people have is that, if you take the food away, then the cats will go away. That is extremely false. Some areas of the U.S. have enforced feeding bans so that residents living in that area are legally deterred from not putting out food for feral cats. Just because a food source is taken away and not readily available does not mean the cats will go away and find food elsewhere. When food sources are scarce, feral cats tend to move closer to human habitations, as they grow hungrier in hopes of finding scraps of food. When cats are malnourished they have a greater risk of developing parasitic infestations and since cats move closer to humans when hungry, this leaves those infections closer to your home and your pets. Cats will also continue to breed despite the lack of food. So the moral of the story is that feeding bans do more harm than good when it comes to trying to control feral cat populations.

4. SIMPLE CAT RELOCATION DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM

It is common to think that the solution to a cat overpopulation problem is to simply relocate the cats. Sure, this method will get rid of the one cat, however, this method is extremely counterproductive. Once a cat is eradicated, this opens up a spot among the colony for another cat to come in and take its place. This method does not provide a solution to the breeding problem and could cause more breeding in other areas to which the cat was relocated. If several cats are removed at one time, this can lead to an influx of rodents around your home and increase the spread of disease that these rodents are carrying. Feral and stray cats provide rodent control.
Benefits of Trap Neuter Return Programs, part 1Benefits of Trap Neuter Return Programs, part 2Benefits of Trap Neuter Return Programs, part 3Benefits of Trap Neuter Return Programs, part 4Benefits of Trap Neuter Return Programs, part 5

BENEFITS OF TNR

1. TNR SAVES KITTENS

Every time a feral cat has kittens, it significantly lowers the odds that other kittens in shelters will be adopted. With so many cats inundating the shelters, competition for homes is fierce. By spaying and neutering feral cats, we reduce the cat population, which in turn reduces the number of cats that are turned into shelters for adoption. Unfortunately, feral kittens are not adoptable without extensive training first, and if a kitten does not get adopted in a shelter, it is likely to be subject to euthanasia. TNR can help prevent this.

2. TNR PREVENTS OVERPOPULATION OF FERAL CATS

Getting feral and stray cats spayed or neutered prevents them from reproducing, helping to stop the rising cat overpopulation. This can help the quality of life for feral cats, help reduce the number of cats around your neighborhood, and reduce the spread of disease and the number of cat deaths.

3. FELINE NUISANCE BEHAVIOR IS REDUCED BY TNR

One major compliant about feral cats is their behavior. Many cats will participate in excessive fighting, whether it territorial, food-related, over a female cat, etc. This can lead to loud noise outside of your home. Another behavior that is common among feral cats is spraying their urine on structures around your property to mark their territory. Nuisance behavior becomes more rampant when feral cats breed in sheltered areas close to or in homes it can lead to property destruction. It is a fact that when cats are spayed or neutered, there is a decrease in this kind of behavior, making living among feral cats much more pleasant.

4. TNR IS THE MOST COST-EFFECTIVE AND HUMANE WAY TO CONTROL THE FERAL CAT POPULATION

TNR can help save shelters, pounds and animal control agencies a significant amount of money. For one cat to participate in the TNR program, it is half the cost of euthanizing that same cat.

5. TNR-CATS PROVIDE EXCELLENT RODENT CONTROL

Cats are natural born hunters. Free-roaming cats find many of their meals in rodents that are living around your home. Having feral cats controlling the rodent population can prevent rodents from making their way into your home and getting into your food supply. Reducing the rodent population also protects your pets from coming into contact with them, and the diseases they carry.

6. TNR-CATS LIVE HEALTHIER, HAPPIER LIVES

There are many forms of cancer and diseases that can be associated with having an excessive amount of pregnancies in cats. When a female cat has too many pregnancies it promotes mammary, uterine, and other health problems. Spaying cats is a way to keep cats healthier and prevent premature deaths. Cats that are spayed also do not go into heat, which attracts fewer tomcats, resulting in less fighting and injury. Neutered and spayed cats also live longer, and remain in the same colony for a longer period of time.

EFFECTIVENESS

There have been many studies done in various programs throughout the U.S. on the effectiveness of TNR programs. Multiple programs have been implemented and reported decreased numbers in their cat populations since implementing the TNR program. It has been proven that Trap-Neuter-Return can stabilize the feral cat population. During an 11-year study at the University of Florida, a TNR program was implemented and the number of cats on campus declined by 66%. It was also found that no new kittens were born in the first 4 years that the program was put into place.
At the University of Texas A&M, a TNR program was set into effect and neutered 123 cats in one year and discovered no new kittens in the next year. In the city of Berkeley and San Diego County, they reported that euthanasia rates for all cats that are brought to their shelters have been reduced by approximately 50% since free spay and neuter and TNR programs have been put into place. Euthanasia rates have also decreased 29% in Indianapolis when IndyFeral was started in 2002. Indianapolis Animal Care & Control also reported a 37% decrease in feral cat intake since the program was formed.
Best Friends Animal Society partnered with Petsmart Charities to prove that TNR programs have the potential to cut taxpayers costs in half in comparison to the “catch and kill” method. The study states that to trap and kill feral cats accumulates to a total cost of $16 billion. Whereas TNR programs would cost approximately $9 billion to support and run these programs by rescue organizations and volunteers.
TNR not only is effective for feral cat population control but it is also effective for cutting government spending.

TNR WORKS

Trap-Neuter-Return programs have been proven to be a more humane and effective solution to controlling the feral cat population. Feral cats are not unhealthy creatures that deserve to be euthanized - they are able to survive in the wild and live out a long and happy life. Studies have produced research that supports TNR and its effectiveness at controlling and reducing feral cat populations.
Too many cats are euthanized each year, costing US taxpayer’s exorbitant amounts of money; it is time to take steps to reduce feral cat euthanasia rates, which have been proven ineffective in controlling the feral cat population. Let’s give feral cats, and our wallets, a break. There are approximately 146 million cats, and of this 146 million, about half of these cats are feral or stray cats.