Petition for a Humane Approach to Feral Cats - Trap Neuter Enclose
We, the undersigned, are for Trap Neuter Enclose of sterilized feral cats.Thus, we oppose any ordinance permitting the controversial strategy known as Trap Neuter Release,Trap Neuter Return, TNR, or Community Cats which sanctions the release of feral cats into the environment and into open cat colonies. The priority of city councils and animal control is to safeguard constituents. Hence, approval by city council members of TNR colonies is a liability issue for a city as TNR feral cat colonies pose a significant public health threat of toxoplasmosis, unique to cat waste, which the scientific literature has linked to schizophrenia and mental illness. TNR feral cat colonies also endanger public health due to the threat of rabies from free roaming cats as well as many types of bacteria, (including bartonella bacteria also linked to schizophrenia), and diseases that can be transmitted through bites and scratches. (Gerhold & Jessup, 2013; Roebling et al. 2014). Artificially sustaining abnormally high concentrations of feral cats that are wary of being re-trapped poststerilization, therefore not adequately immunized against rabies or receiving regular veterinary care to which the public has access, cannot be good for public health. Diseases easily spread in these open colonies from cat to human, given the tendency for humans to come to the aid of feral cats. Since TNR programs run counter to disease prevention in communities, numerous public health officials and veterinarians do not support TNR feral cat colonies. We further recognize that any ordinance permitting TNR feral cat colonies creates an ecological disaster in complete violation of city council members' responsibility to protect our natural resources and local native wildlife, which the data shows is in decline due to cat predation. We recognize that a TNR ordinance comes at the expense of wildlife, already struggling to survive in isolated and fragmented habitats. Modern science has documented that well-fed cats are no less motivated to hunt and they kill billions of wild animals annually (Loss et al. 2013). Cats are a non-native, invasive, subsidized predator species; they are not part of the ecosystem. And because wildlife is vulnerable to the diseases spread by free roaming cats as well as cat predation, many wildlife organizations are opposed to TNR feral cat colonies.
We further recognize that instead of sheltering cats, the practice of TNR actually re-abandons cats into the environment, which is inhumane for domestic, companion animals. Outdoor cats are subject to fatal feline diseases, chronic and debilitating parasitic infestations, abuse, injury and death from larger animals and vehicles, from consuming poison bait and exposure to environmental contaminants and extreme weather conditions.
Finally, because it's impossible to sterilize all the feral cats in open colonies, we recognize that Trap, Neuter, Release efforts of feral cats have not resulted in effectively eliminating feral cat population numbers as TNR feeding programs are an incentive for the public to dump unwanted, unsterilized cats into the colonies. "Cat immigration" of unsterilized strays and unwanted cats into TNR colonies means population numbers do not recede and statistically increase rather than decline. A TNR ordinance enables the cycle of abandonment to continue, undermining efforts to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.
Therefore, we, the undersigned demand that local city council members act responsibly and require Trap Neuter Enclose- enclosures for sterilized feral cats and prohibit Trap Neuter Release of feral cats into the wild. Council members have an obligation to enact laws that regard the safety, and public health and welfare of residents, protect native wildlife and ensure that cats are treated humanely. Ordinances regarding free-roaming pet cats must include prohibitions against cats at large and cat licensure. Regarding feral cats: city ordinances must include feeding bans, prohibit sterilized feral cats from running-at-large, and require rabies vaccinations. Should Feral Cat Colony Management be practiced, the cats MUST be contained and enclosed on the humane society's property, the rescue organization's property, or the caretaker's property, thereby ensuring the safety of residents, and protecting cats and wildlife. Solutions to the overpopulation of feral cats must not come at the expense of public health, wildlife, cats, or property rights.
Gerhold, R. W., and D. A. Jessup, 2013: Zoonotic diseases associated with free-roaming cats. Zoonoses Public Health 60(3), 189-195.
Longcore, T., C. Rich, and L. M. Sullivan, 2009: Critical assessment of claims regarding management of feral cats by trap-neuter-return. Conserv. Biol. 23, 887-894.
Loss S.R., T. Will., and P. Marra, 2013: The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications 4, 1396.
Roebling, A.D. et al., 2014: Rabies Prevention and Management of Cats in the Context of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release Programmes. Zoonoses and Public Health 61, 290-296.