Alley Cat Allies
Toronto Street Cats
What You Can Do to Help Feral Cats
What is a "feral cat"?
A feral cat is either a cat who has lived his whole life with little or no human contact and is not socialized, or a stray cat who was lost or abandoned and has lived away from human contact long enough to revert to a wild state. Feral cats live in colonies wherever food can be found, and cannot be touched by strangers.
Why should we care?
We should care about feral cats because they are a problem we created, originating, as they did, from domestic cats either abandoned, or lost, and thus forced to fend for themselves. On a more practical level we should care b/c the vast majority of these cats are unaltered thus contributing greatly to the problem of cat overpopulation.
Is there a solution?
The traditional method used by animal control agencies for the control of cats has been to capture and euthanize ferals, as the great majority is too wild to be adopted. Apart from the fact that this disrespect for life is inhumane, we now know that, as a solution, it doesn't work. Due to what is known as the "vacuum effect", when cats are removed from a colony, new ones will either move in to take over the food source, or existing cats will over-breed to reach the former population level.
TNR – A Better Solution
"TNR", or Trap | Neuter | Return, is a management plan in which stray and feral cats are humanely trapped, then evaluated, vaccinated, and sterilized by veterinarians. Kittens and tame cats are adopted into good homes. Adult cats too wild to be adopted are returned to their familiar habitat, where volunteers monitor them and provide long-term care. This plan is working effectively in many areas of Europe, the U.S. and Canada.Where this program is in effect, it has been found that numbers of strays and ferals are decreasing, nuisance complaints are reduced, and over time, there is a significant cost savings. In addition, managed healthy feral cat colonies do play a positive role in the community, keeping the population of mice, rats, and other disease-carrying rodents under control.
Trap | Neuter | Return (TNR) is a strategy for improving the lives of feral cats and reducing their numbers. In the short video above, Bryan Kortis of Neighborhood Cats presents an introduction to the feral cat crisis, explains the basics of TNR, and why a community TNR program is beneficial not only to cats but to the whole communitiy. Produced by the Humane Society of the United States.