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Friends of Animals Position Statement on Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Friends of Animals Position Statement on Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Published January 2006; updated June 2007.

Friends of Animals, a national animal advocacy group which was founded in 1957 and has successfully altered over 2.5 million cats to date, endorses Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as the only method that effectively reduces cat populations and takes an ethical view of feral cats. We support TNR for the following reasons:

  • TNR averts killing. We oppose lethal methods of animal control. Routine killing of unowned cats does not reduce populations. It merely results in new cats coming into the problem area and continuing to breed. Moreover, people have a desire to help sustain stray and feral cats, and we support this desire.
  • TNR promotes responsible attitudes. We encourage education about TNR to foster attitudes of responsibility, to prevent abandonment, and to discourage the killing of healthy or treatable animals. Whereas cruelty includes the denial of sustenance and shelter and abandonment, TNR is aligned with the principle underlying the statutes that prohibit cruelty to animals.

  • TNR is compatible with ecological ethics. It is an effective way to humanely extinguish a colony of free-ranging domestic cats. Feral cats in managed colonies are often adopted into homes, having become tamer after neutering. Therefore, TNR is appropriate where native species are threatened by cats.

  • TNR is a healthful approach. TNR is now accepted as a realistic and ethical approach in large and small jurisdictions in every region of the United States, and by several veterinary colleges and associations. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) has published several studies which indicate that feral cats are generally in good health. Feline infections may be transmitted through a deep bite -- if the biting cat’s gums are bleeding. Saliva alone won’t transmit the disease, so transmission is unusual. Insofar as it could happen during mating, we note that mating is greatly reduced or eliminated through TNR. Cats can be kept healthy by assigning someone to manage the colony, including trapping for treatment recommended by veterinarians.

  • If communities can be mobilized to demand endorsement of TNR from their respective municipalities, there would be an enormous reduction in killing rates, costs of animal control, and unkindness.

We welcome endorsements of TNR from people who are succeeding with it all over.

From Doreen in Florida (May 2007):

I live in Cedar Key Florida along the Gulf Coast. My husband and I have begun a TNR program on our island of approximately 800 year-round human residents and about 400 feral cats. Since October 2006 we have neutered/spayed 135 cats. Humans are the most difficult creatures on earth to change, but if everyone were able to teach just one person of the importance of neutering/spaying then we are on our way to a better world. Animals are of flesh and blood as we humans are. I do not want to believe that the more intelligent life form could be so cruel as to let animals suffer needlessly and painfully.