Tuesday, August 22, 2023

TNR is not perfect but it makes a lot of feral cats healthy and happy!

Trap-neuter-release (TNR) is, as I am sure you are aware, a very common method for helping feral cats to live decent lives. It helps to prevent the procreation of more feral cats and the procedure includes vaccinating the cats and checking their health. They are cared for by happy volunteers, usually women, who get to know their cats and love them. The whole process is positive.

TNR volunteers do wonderful work and they should be praised as society has an obligation to care for feral cats because they shouldn't be there.
TNR volunteers do wonderful work and they should be praised as society has an obligation to care for feral cats because they shouldn't be there. This picture is in the public domain.


Detractors of TNR say that it simply puts feral cats back into the urban environment. Detractors want the cats removed and euthanised or killed in any way possible. They want this because they want to protect native species and wildlife generally as the cats prey upon them. And they want rid of the cats because they think they present a health hazard to people. They don't but that's the perception by detractors.

And detractors also state that TNR will not solve the feral cat problem. That's because TNR takes too long and it is not practised widely enough to have a huge impact upon the feral cat population.


But there are some wonderful benefits. Firstly, TNR stabilises the population of a feral cat colony. So, in a certain area it does improve the environment for local residents. The residents can know that the feral cats are being cared for and that their numbers are being stabilised. In fact, eventually, if TNR is practised on a feral cat colony for long enough the numbers can be reduced to zero. Although, what often happens, is that more human carelessness produces more unwanted cats who become feral cats and they then end up joining the colony managed by TNR volunteers. It is the good guys, the TNR volunteers, mopping up the mess made by the bad guys, the careless cat owners. Or bad people dump their domestic cats at feral cat colonies. Horrible behavior.

In addition, many residents who are not volunteers will still be pleased that the cats are being cared for. TNR improves the general ambience of an environment where there are feral cats.

So, there are great advantages to local residents. And the advantages of course extend to the cats. The charity Best Friends tells us that "TNR ensures the cats' health and welfare. Once these cats are sterilised and vaccinated, they can live healthy, happy lives in their communities, where caring residents look after them."

Promoting misconceptions

A lot of people promote the idea - and I will have to include PETA in this group - that feral cats live miserable, short lives and are inevitably badly diseased. This simply isn't true. Of course, feral cats are more likely to pick up a disease similar to those picked up by domestic cats and when they are not cared for, they are going to die of those diseases sometimes.

But under TNR programs many feral cats live lives as good as those enjoyed by domestic cats. The volunteers provide winter shelter for them and they are of course fed regularly. If society is careless enough to allow feral cats to exist which is what happens then society has an obligation to care for those cats. On a moral level TNR works. In fact, TNR is essential if humankind is to behave ethically towards feral cats which are a symptom of careless domestic cat ownership.

There should be no detractors of TNR. It is something that society has to do. It is not done enough but the volunteers who do participate in these TNR programs need all the praise that they can get because they deserve a huge pat on the back for the work they do. They do it almost silently in the background. They are often unnoticed.


Sometimes ugly people attack them and there have even been fatal outcomes of altercations between TNR volunteers and an unpleasant resident who doesn't want them there. That's because feral cats provoke a lot of polarised arguments. A lot of people hate them but I have to state that these are ignorant people who don't look deeper into the issue. To be clear, people have an obligation to care for feral cats.


Remarkably, in America, sometimes the police get involved and they stop TNR volunteers from carrying out their duties. This happened on public land not too long ago. A couple of old ladies were even prosecuted for aggravated trespass. The story was extraordinary. Eventually the old ladies got off because the whole process was ridiculous. But the police facilitated it to their ignorance. Often the police struggled to behave properly in respect of feral dogs and feral cats. To me dogs, for instance, are shot by the police in America for no reason at all other than perhaps that the police are frightened of dogs.

TNR helps these cats live decent lives. Let's be thankful to the volunteers who make this happen.

No comments:

Search This Blog