Free-roaming (aka feral) cats are an issue nationally and around the world. In every community—large, small, rural, urban—these wild versions of our domesticated feline friends roam the alleys and backwaters. Love or hate them, feral cats are a part of life and they aren’t going anywhere—unless we follow science and nationally-accepted population control best practices. There is only one way to control, mitigate and eventually abate feral cat populations and that is the studied and substantiated intervention we know as Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR).
For decades, organizations charged with addressing the issue of free-roaming animals have struggled to address the problem. The simple, albeit heart-breaking, fact is that the widely accepted approach was to round up stray animals and dispose of them. As a matter of fact, Nevada Humane Society was founded in 1932 by two women who were tired of seeing homeless and wild animals alike rounded up, stored in a “big pen in the woods” to await euthanasia.
We, as a nation and as a community, have come a long way since then. As you have heard me say before, Washoe County is one of the safest places in the nation to be a lost or forgotten pet. A major reason for this distinction is the more than 14 years that this community has embraced TNR—which involves humanely trapping cats living in feral colonies, spaying or neutering them, then returning the animals to their habitats.
TNR is the only humane method of managing and reducing free-roaming cat populations. Moreover, it is the only effective method of controlling this population. Whether you sit on the side of treating these animals humanely or you simply want fewer community cats, TNR is the solution. Washoe County spent decades trying to euthanize our way out of the problem. It didn’t work and it won’t work. TNR seeks to manage cat colonies to extinction. It works.
The trap and kill approach is not only inhumane; it is unnecessary and terribly expensive. Estimates for temporarily housing and then killing community cats is $250 per cat (according to The Fiscal Impact of Trap, Neuter and Return Policies in Controlling Feral Cat Populations in the United States conducted by John Dunham and Associates); all at taxpayers’ expense. And it doesn’t solve the problem.
The TNR program implemented communitywide has proven to be effective and it does not cost taxpayers (NHS is supported by donations). TNR is one of many NHS initiatives that support our no-kill mission. If you have free-roaming cats in your neighborhood, please call our Animal Help Desk (775-856-2000, ext. 200) to learn more about TNR. If you would like to help save cats who are currently at risk, please contact us about adopting a Barn Cat. If you would like more information about TNR, visit www.nevadahumanesociety.org.