TNR Reality Check

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TNR is NOT Good Public Health Policy

Artificially sustaining an abnormally high concentration of animals that are not getting regular veterinary care and to which the general public has access cannot be good for public health. Disease can be more easily spread in these colonies from cat to cat, cat to wild animal, wild animal to cat, and cat and wild animal to human. Given the tendency for humans to come to the aid of a cat or kitten we should be concerned.

Mad About Poo!

A Link between Toxoplasmosis and Schizophrenia

Judith A Milcarsky, DVM

Two NEW peer-reviewed publications in the Journal Zoonoses and Public Health

Rabies Prevention and Management of Cats in the Context of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release Programmes

Full Paper

Zoonotic Diseases Asssociated with Free-Roaming Cats

Full paper

We must address the management of cat colonies on the basis of what we know to be true in terms of public and environmental health.

1. We know from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians ( "…no evidence exists that maintained cat colonies adequately reduce human public health risks or appropriately address their impact on pets or native wildlife". They state, "…the maintenance of free-roaming/unowned/feral cats can be detrimental to public and environmental health…". They further state that, "There is no evidence that colony management programs will reduce diseases such as bartonellosis, larval migrans, toxoplasmosis, and vector-borne zoonotic diseases. Rabies will also continue to be a risk, as such colonies are not closed". Finally, they state that, "Several reports suggest that support of "managed cat colonies" may increase the public's likelihood of abandoning unwanted pets in lieu of more responsible options".

2. We know from the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians ( that "Bites, scratches, and feces from feral cats can be a significant risk for exposure to several zoonotic diseases to the people that care for the feral cats as well as the general public".

3. We know the Association of Avian Veterinarians ( "…seeks to preserve species and their natural habitats, and has adopted the philosophy that veterinarians should take a leading role in preventative care for all earth" and "supports actions by governmental wildlife agencies, public health agencies, and public or private organizations to ban or eliminate cat colonies on public lands in a humane manner and discourage feral cat colonies on private lands".

4. We know from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( that, "Cats play an important role in the spread of toxoplasmosis. They become infected by eating infected rodents, birds, or other small animals. The parasite is then passed in the cat's feces in an oocyst form, which is microscopic. Kittens and cats can shed millions of oocysts in their feces for as long as 3 weeks after infection. Mature cats are less likely to shed Toxoplasma if they have been previously infected. A Toxoplasma-infected cat that is shedding the parasite in its feces contaminates the litter box. If the cat is allowed outside, it can contaminate the soil or water in the environment as well."

Furthermore, the CDC announced that the results of a study show Toxocara (roundworm) infection to be more common than previously thought (

Finally, the CDC announced in 2007 that canine rabies has been eliminated in the U.S. through the implementation of dog vaccination, licensing and stray dog control (not by maintaining free-roaming feral dog colonies). Nationwide, cats accounted for 54 percent of domestic animals found with rabies in 2005. In 2006, cases of rabies in cats increased 18.2% compared with the number reported in 2005. Raccoons top the list, but cats are the leading carriers by far among domestic animals.

5. In the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2011 (, the recommendation is that, "Stray dogs, cats and ferrets should be removed from the community".

Video of Rabid Cat

There seems to be a wide array of consensus from the scientific and public health communities that cats should be removed from the environment. This demonstrates a need to advise people to avoid stray cats and kittens, not allow their own pets to roam, not to put pet food outdoors, and NOT to maintain cat colonies.

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