TNR Reality Check
This can also be used as a basis for a letter to the editor or a letter to government officials.
We, the undersigned, are opposed to Ordinances that permit Feral Cat Colony Management, also known as Trap-Neuter-Release or Trap-Neuter-Return or TNR or Community Cat Management. We feel that the priority of municipalities is to safeguard our natural resources, including our native wildlife, and to ensure the safety of constituents.
We recognize that TNR Ordinances come at the expense of wildlife, already struggling to survive in isolated and fragmented habitats. Well-fed cats are no less motivated to hunt and kill billions of wild animals annually (Loss et al. 2013). They are a non-native, subsidized predator species, not part of the ecosystem. Many areas have rare, threatened, and endangered species, as well as species of special concern. Such areas are often designated as critical habitat.
We also recognize that feral cat colonies pose a significant risk to human and animal health. Cats carry many types of bacteria and diseases that can be transmitted through bites, scratches, or fecal contamination (Gerhold & Jessup, 2013; Roebling et al. 2014).
We further recognize that re-abandoning cats into the environment is inhumane for domestic, companion animals. Outdoor cats are subject to fatal feline diseases, abuse, vehicles, contaminants, and extreme weather conditions.
Finally, we recognize that efforts to trap, neuter and release feral cats have not resulted in effectively reducing the feral cat population (Longcore et al. 2009). Government-endorsed ordinances enable the cycle of abandonment to continue and undermine efforts to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.
Therefore, we demand that municipalities and counties act responsibly when considering Feral Cat Colony Management legislation. Municipalities and counties have an obligation to enact laws that regard the safety, and public health and welfare of residents, and protect native wildlife.
Ordinances regarding free-roaming and feral cats should be created that include cat licensure, feeding bans, prohibit cats from running-at-large, and require rabies vaccinations. Should TNR or Feral Cat Colony Management be practiced, the cats MUST be contained and confined to the caretaker's property, thereby protecting cats and wildlife and ensuring the safety of residents.
Gerhold, R. W., and D. A. Jessup, 2013: Zoonotic diseases associated with free-roaming cats. Zoonoses Public Health 60(3), 189-195.
Longcore, T., C. Rich, and L. M. Sullivan, 2009: Critical assessment of claims regarding management of feral cats by trap-neuter-return. Conserv. Biol. 23, 887-894.
Loss S.R., T. Will., and P. Marra, 2013: The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications 4, 1396.
Roebling, A.D. et al., 2014: Rabies Prevention and Management of Cats in the Context of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release Programmes. Zoonoses and Public Health 61, 290-296.