Organizations like Alley Cat Allies and Friends For Life have long been proponents of TNR (trap-neuter-return) efforts. Friends For Life does this in Houston via the Fix Houston™ program – a one of a kind public-private partnership in Houston that works to educate members of the community and focuses TNR efforts on the zip codes with the highest kill rates of community cats.
Alley Cat Allies put together the below information to help inform people about how the traditional method of “catch and kill” does not work, why it doesn’t work, and the alternative that has proven effective for community cats, their neighbors, taxpayers, and cities.
Feral cats live outdoors
Feral cats have been living outside in close proximity to humans for over 10,000 years. Feral cats choose to reside in locations for two reasons: one, there is a food source—intended or not—and two, there is shelter. Feral cats are members of the domestic cat species, but are not socialized to humans and are therefore unadoptable. Feral cats lead healthy, natural lives on their own, content in their outdoor home. Learn more about feral cats.
Removing animals from an area creates a vacuum
Catching and killing feral cats is animal control’s traditional approach for feral cats. Catch and kill attempts may temporarily reduce the number of feral cats in a given area, but two things happen: intact survivors continue to breed, and other cats move into the now-available territory. This is a phenomenon known as the vacuum effect, and it is documented worldwide.
Catch and kill doesn’t work, yet it continues
Animal control agencies have been catching and killing cats for decades in a misguided attempt to reduce the number of feral cats in a given area. Animal control continues to practice catch and kill even though the number of outdoor cats does not decrease, proving the futility of these practices. This endless, cruel cycle is not supported by the public and is a gross misuse of tax dollars. The vacuum effect is just one reason catch and kill is so ineffective.
Trap-Neuter-Return does work
This program involves humanely trapping, spaying or neutering, vaccinating, and returning cats to their outdoor homes. There are no more kittens; the population stabilizes. And the returned neutered cats’ lives are improved. Behaviors and stresses associated with pregnancy and mating, such as yowling or fighting, stop. Not only does Trap-Neuter-Return make good sense, it is also a responsible, humane method of care for outdoor cats. Learn more about the effectiveness of Trap-Neuter-Return.
You can make a difference and save lives
Together, we can stand up and take action to stop the current animal control policies that don’t address the needs of the cats or our communities.