Today is National Feral Cat Day! In honor of our outdoor feline friends, we wanted to share some information about feral cats and Pawmetto Lifeline’s TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) policy. Our policy is designed to manage the feral cat population in the Midlands through humane spay & neuter measures that have been proven to work, not “catch and kill” initiatives, which do not.
Many feral cats live short, harsh lives since their existence is focused on survival and reproduction… unless they have been spayed or neutered. In the Midlands, out of the 17,000 dogs and cats who are euthanized in local shelters each year, approximately 60% of those are cats. Sadly, for feral cats, that percentage goes up to 100%. Because feral cats are not socialized to people and are not adoptable, the current municipal shelter policy is automatic euthanasia. However, eradication efforts are just temporary fixes that do nothing to control or slow feral population growth. Cats are prolific breeders (no infertility issues for them!) so for every cat that’s simply removed from an un-managed colony, there are always plenty more to take it’s place. (Learn more about the “vacuum effect”and why catch & kill doesn’t work.)
But, when TNR practices are applied to a feral cat colony, the problem becomes manageable, benefiting both the feral cats and the community. In TNR, feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal symbol of an altered and vaccinated cat), and then returned to their colony. Over time, the colony’s population will stabilize (no more kittens!) and their lives will improve. Not only does the colony’s growth slow, the behaviors and stresses associated with mating and over-population stop. In a healthy feral community, cats can live long, robust lives, content in their outdoor home. There’s also an added benefit to the domestic and stray (non-feral) cat population; rescue efforts for adoptable cats can increase when feral cats are no longer creating a drain on limited shelter resources! (Wondering what the difference is between feral and stray cats? Check out this great article from Alley Cat Allies, “Feral and Stray Cats—An Important Difference”.)
Pawmetto Lifeline’s Feral Cat/TNR program has been designed to facilitate responsible management of the feral cat population in the Midlands. For a low fee, members of the public can bring feral cats to our clinic Mondays-Thursdays. They will then be spay or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped. If you are interested in participating, please review our website for more information. If you have noticed a colony near you and you have any questions about how to start the TNR process, please review the “Neighborhood Cats TNR Handbook”; Alley Cat Allies, “Conduct TNR Guide“; or call our clinic at 803-465-9100.
To learn more about feral cats and trap/neuter/release programs please visit Alley Cat Allies, Neighborhood Cats, and the ASPCA Feral Cat FAQ and join us in our efforts to protect and nurture our feral feline friends!