The progressive solution to control cat populations humanely and effectively is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), whereby feral cats are trapped and neutered. Kittens and tame cats can go to the animal shelter to be adopted, and cats too wild to be adopted are returned to their outdoor homes. Volunteers feed and monitor the feral cat colonies. As new cats join the colonies, they too are trapped, neutered and returned. The cats are allowed to live out their natural lives, and over time, because breeding ceases, the population naturally declines. This method of population control is widespread, has been around for about twenty years, and it is proven to work!
Obviously, it would have been easier to address this problem in your area before the number of cats grew so high. Now the quick and easy way out is to slaughter the animals. But it's irresponsible and cruel to do so. Only the extremely ill animals that are beyond rehabilitation should be euthanized. The rest of the homeless cats should not be killed. It's not the cats' fault that pet owners failed to spay or neuter and/or discarded their pets at dumps. The cats shouldn't pay the price for the community's failure to take action before now. And killing these cats won't make the problem go away. Wherever there is adequate shelter and food, ferals will reproduce quickly. In time, without a TNR program, it’s highly probable that your community will find itself in the same situation that you are in now.
TNR also makes financial sense. The $6,000 grant to the SPCA will likely not nearly cover the cost of man hours and drugs to trap and kill all of the cats, but could go a long way to starting a TNR program, especially if vets could be persuaded to do spay/neuters at cost. It would garner good feelings and volunteer help, as well as make the SPCA staff, your community, and those concerned with animal welfare nationally and internationally feel good about the solution to this problem. Reducing the wild-cat population through TNR will reduce future nuisance calls to the SPCA, and the number of cats requiring housing and euthanization.
We urge every citizen to act in favour of doing the right thing. Be part of a humane solution and get involved to save these cats and implement a TNR program. You will be amazed at the number of committed volunteers who will come forward to make it work. There are a lot of resources available about how to do TNR successfully and our organization would be more than happy to share all of the information and expertise we have acquired. A good starting point is the Alley Cat Allies website: www.alleycat.org.
Cheryl Simpson, President
Feline Friends Network