Friday, June 15, 2012

Help For The Forgotten

What is the best way to help ferals, strays, abandoned cats and kittens that you can do right in your own neighborhood? What kinds of programs can you look into to help the situation? How can you and your children become pro-active?
people with a cat in a cage
Yevgeniy Mazor-Thomas of Grafton, a vet technician/assistant supervisor of the Luke & Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, left, prepares paperwork for a recently trapped cat as Spay Worcester co-chairman and Shrewsbury Animal Control Officer Leona Pease prepares to move the cat from a trap to the transfer cage at the left

Lets start with a trap-neuter-return program where people's endeavors are geared toward lowering the number of these cats by trapping them in humane cages, taking them to vets and places like Cat Action to have them neutered and spayed. You may know it as trap-neuter-spay-return or trap-neuter-vaccinate-return; all are endorsed by the ASPCA, SPCA, the Humane Society and Cat Action, here on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
According to web site of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, stray and feral cats are “humanely trapped, examined, vaccinated, and surgically sterilized by veterinarians.” This is the same here in Canada. After being fixed and shots given, feral cats are freed and returned to their familiar environment and hopefully, cared for by volunteers who provide food, shelter and monitor them for sickness. I know there is an actual House on PEI where a couple, through the aid of people like me, provide shelter, medicine when needed, food and water for them. 

The advantages obviously include:
  • Benefits for feral, stray and abandoned cats. Neutered and spayed cats sometimes gain weight and have fewer health problems like breast, testicular and uterine cancers. I have four fixed cats of my own, only one female has gained weight. Spaying also reduces risks that coincide with constant pregnancy. Fewer females in heat means fewer toms attracted to an area so fewer, potentially harm-causing cat fights. 
  • Benefits for people. Spaying and neutering these cats is an excellent population control where behaviors that include fighting and marking are also reduced, while benefits such as rodent control continue. Ultimately less cat suffering also means less human suffering in the face of dying or injured cats.
feral cat investagating a humane trap
A feral cat on Ellsworth Street investigates a trap; the cat eventually was attracted by the food inside and was caught
 Of course, not everyone is a fan of this program. There are fish and wildlife advocates that insist re-releasing feral and strays after neutering simply constitutes re-abandonment and doesn’t permanently address the larger problem and I agree. If we were to add a Rehabilitation Program where people or families offered to learn how to tame these cats, then tamed and socialized the one that will accept human intervention and a Re-homing Program for the ones that were tamed, it would go a very long way to cleaning up the problem.
cat in transfer cage
Trapped cat looks out from the a transfer cage
Some advocate relocation or simply killing the cats instead. Relocation sounds good but it is highly ineffective because it creates an unwanted vacuum effect. Any cats, be they feral, strays, abandoned or our pets, gather where there are resources, the food, water and shelter they need. I just have to look out of my patio door every morning to see that and I live on a dairy that is a registered cat colony here on the island. Believe me when I tell you that, people are already attempting to ''relocate'' unwanted animals when they dump them on the farm!  So when an existing colony is relocated or completely eradicated, before long a new group of cats that exist on the outskirts of our society will discover the same resources and move in to fill said 'vacuum.
Relocation is unappealing for other reasons too; cats, like raccoons, are very territorial so a relocated cat just might attempt to find its way home and suffer an accident, life-threatening injury or death on the way. Then again, the relocation area itself might already have an established colony that will fight for its right to not allow new cats in or it may lack proper food, water and enough sheltered areas for all of them. These are animals that migrate from colony to colony or house to house. Unless a colony’s life is in danger from something like sickness or overcrowding most experts agree that relocation is not a permanent solution.
dog on operating table being spayed or neutered
Dogs are just as vulnerable and group together in packs when feral. Fixing, taming and re-homing works for them too

Most people are humane and not willing to support eradication. With a trap-neuter-return effort, “people will give their time, money, and resources,” says Slater, author of Community Approaches to Feral Cats. “But if you’re catching and euthanizing cats, in most cases you just won’t get volunteers to do that.”
TNR is an excellent teaching tool for people because it gets us more involved and doing something about the situation. “It gets people to think about how we can prevent cats from ending up on the street and how we can manage cat populations.” When we and our children are pro-active, everyone wins. I am referencing this information from

My next blog will be concerning some things that you may be able to do for the cats in your area. The site where the pictures came from is


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