Trap, Neuter, Release programs are becoming increasingly popular in cities and rural areas to help appropriately control feral cat populations. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has published answers to many frequently asked questions regarding feral cats and how to understand their needs and appropriately work to help them.
This information comes from the ASPCA website: http://www.aspca.org/adoption/feral-cats-faq.aspx#birds
This second article continues highlighting ASPCA supported and recommended ways to help control a feral cat population in a community. The first article (see reference below) gives basic information about feral cats and their lives.
Trap, Neuter, release is the best way to control an established feral cat population. Through TNR, feral cats can live out their lives without adding to the homeless cat population. By stabilizing the population, cats will naturally have more space, shelter and food, and fewer risks of disease. After being spayed or neutered, cats living in colonies tend to gain weight and live healthier lives. TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviors such as spraying, loud noise and fighting are largely eliminated and no more kittens are born.
As a TNR program is begun, cat feeding stations are mandatory for continued maintenance of a balanced and peacefully coexisting human/cat community. A feeding station is a small structure, usually made of wood or other weatherproof materials, that protects dry cat food and water from the elements. Plans for building feeding stations are easily found online:
Only a few minutes a day by a volunteer feeding station caretaker will keep a feeding station clean and supplied. The cats will benefit knowing there will always be a safe source of food and water for them.
Many feral communities can become designated nonprofit organizations with appropriate documentation. They can then receive fee or low cost tax free donations of cat food and other supplies from local pet supply stores, markets and other sources. Over time, feeding station costs usually become negligible.
A colony caretaker is an individual (or group of individuals) who manages a feral colony in a community. They keep an eye on the cats, providing food, water, shelter, and sometimes spaying/neutering and emergency medical care. In most cases, organizations and vets know these people because of the community service they provide. Some shelters and rescue groups even give out free or low-cost spay/neuter coupons to colony caretakers.
Eradication, the deliberate and systematic destruction of a feral cat colony, by whatever method, almost always leads to the “vacuum effect”—either new cats flock to the vacated area to exploit whatever food source attracted the original inhabitants, or survivors breed and their descendants are more cautious around threats. Simply put, eradication is only a temporary fix that sacrifices animals’ lives unnecessarily, yet yields no positive or beneficial return.
Eradicating a feral cat population just does not work. Many communities have rounded up colonies of feral cats for either euthanasia or to relocate them to another area. This never works. Feral cats are very connected with their territory. They are familiar with the food sources, where to find shelter, resident wildlife, other cats in the area and potential threats to their safety—all things that help them survive.
“Relocation of feral cat colonies is difficult to orchestrate and not 100-percent successful even if done correctly. It is also usually impossible to catch all of the cats, and it only takes one male and one female to begin reproducing the colony,” states Jesse Oldham, ASPCA’s Senior Administrative Director for Community Outreach. “Even when rounding up is diligently performed and all ferals are removed, new cats will soon move in and set up camp.
Relocation is something to consider only if keeping the cats where they are becomes a threat to their lives and all other options have been explored and have failed. Moving cats to another area is a great risk to their safety unless they are being moved to a protected area and procedures laid out by groups such as Alley Cat Allies are followed. “Relocation is an extremely difficult process. People should chose relocation only if the cats’ territory is going to be demolished, there is no adjacent space to shift them to, and if the cats’ lives would be at extreme risk to remain where they are,” says Oldham.
In the Albany area, SCRUFF is an organization that specifically targets altering feral cats. This all volunteer organization helps improve the lives of unowned capital region cats and aims to educate the population about the need to have pets spay end neutered:
Phone: 518-526-FERAL (3372)
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