|11-04-2012, 12:29 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2012
TNVR of feral cats
I'm a student in the veterinary technology program and we had to write a discussion post. It covered several controversial topics from euthanasia in shelters, ethical treatment of animals, caged animals, and TNVR (trap/neuter/vaccinate/release). Many of my classmates thought my original post was helpful and that my response post was interesting. One student claimed to have changed her mind about TNVR after the analogy I included. Please remember, this is my personal opinion and don't have anything against people who are against TNVR.
3. Next, there is a program out there supported by many called trap/neuter/release (TNR). It involves trapping stray cats, testing them for FeLv/FIV and if negative, vaccinating them, neutering them and releasing them back to where they came from. What do you think of this program? Is it really a good idea, or is it just a "feel good" idea? Or maybe you think it's harmful? Consider these points – who feeds the strays? What is the impact on the habitat/community where they live? How does it affect the natural wildlife? In the long term, is it worth it?
My original post:
3. I’m a supporter of TNVR. It started out as a feel-good idea, and it has become a temporary work to slow down the population of feral cats. The program is not a solution to an enormous problem, there is no way to TNVR every adult cat in one neighborhood, let alone a nation. This is because feral cats move around often. The impact on their environment is decided on how often they are fed, how much they are fed, and the quality of the caretaker’s programs. People should be well aware that a fed cat will still hunt down and kill something that catches his fancy. A cat that is no longer fed will hunt down and kill twice that number of prey.
Compare feral cats and TNVR to an oil spill.
Feral cats and Oil spills are both caused by humans; both are a type of pollution that is harming the wildlife.
TNVR can be compared to controlled burning. Controlled burning of an oil spill will reduce the amount of oil in the water, if done properly. But it can only be done in low wind and can cause air pollution. TNVR can reduce the amount of feral cats, by preventing some prolific breeding habits, if done properly. But it can only be done with available veterinary low-cost service and volunteers willing to do it. And the cats can still cause a reduction in wildlife.
Oil spills and feral cats are a type of pollution. The feral cats pollution is not as quick acting as oil spills are, but is just as damaging to the environment of 10 years ago.
Take into consideration, this legal document from Los Angeles. The argument was that TNVR was causing feral cats to be able to damage wildlife and that the impact on the environment was harmful. Their response was “The potential effects of TNR must be measured against the existing environmental baseline, which includes unsterilized feral cats breeding freely, not against a hypothetical environment free of feral cats. Because TNR prevents feral cats that already exist in the environment from breeding [and spreading disease], TNR cannot possibly cause any harm to the environment “ (Degani, 2012) . In other words, the cats are there and will continue to exist whether we trap-kill, trap-release, or leave them to breed prolifically. TNR is done by private rescuers and is not a cost to taxpayers as the government run shelter does not (at this time) participate. This image of a feral-cat-free environment is something that could have been 50 years ago. The reality of it is, we can TNVR or we can let the cats kill more wildlife than already done (squirrels, birds, rabbits, rats), scavenge dumpsters, breed, and spread disease.
This program is worth it, it is not a solution, but it is something to slow the process of the destruction of what remains of our environment until a long-term solution is found. TNVR can be considered a 'Slow Kill' it's a dream of extinction that is moving slower than the growth rate but slows it just enough to be worth it.
Degani, Orly. "City of L.A. CEQA Review of TNR." Nathan Winograd. Nathan Winograd, n.d. Web. <http://www.nathanwinograd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/losangelestnr.pdf>
My response post, the original post I responded to spoke of concerns of diseased cats running rampant due to a lack of vaccinations:
In regards to the FeLV/FIV vaccinations in TNVR cats; one vaccine versus no vaccine is better don't you think? The cats are going to be there whether private TNVR is done or not. So, they can have the one vaccine that can hopefully prevent their contracting these diseases or they can have no protection at all..
Also, take into consideration how the diseases spread, a lot of research has been done on these diseases. FeLV is more contagious than FIV. FIV is spread only with direct contact (such as bite wounds or to kittens during birth) sexual contact is not a major means of spreading FIV. FeLV which is shed in highest quantities in the saliva, nasal passages, urine, feces, and milk secretions is spread easily through sexual contact. Neither virus can survive for more than a few hours outside of the body. FeLV has two stages of infection, stage one is when the cat has the chance to build an immunity to the virus. This is because the first stage of infection only affects the blood. Once you get to stage two there is no option for immunity due to the spread of the virus to the bone marrow and other tissues of the body. FIV can take up to 12 weeks from the time of infection to have enough antigens in the body to test positive, so even though cats test negative and are released, they can still have the viral infections. That being said, I like that at least something is being done as opposed to nothing.
As for finances, TNVR is not government run and the vaccines and care are paid out of private pockets. This means good business for clinics and is a part of the feel-good aspect for some people. Take the Animal Coalition of Tampa for example. They were a spay/neuter clinic at first. They did nothing other than spays and neuters. After a little while of many TNVR they added a shot clinic to their facility. Now, after getting a strong following of regular clients who pay them to spay and neuter feral cats, as well as pets, they have a brand new facility and are a full service, low cost clinic. I did TNVR for my neighborhood, we went from 40+ cats to about 10 now in the past 5 years. Why such a drastic drop in population? Because we spayed and neutered and we didn't open space for new cats to survive off of what resources were available. As the colony decreased, we decreased available resources (food, etc.). I didn't TNVR in my neighborhood because I felt bad or because I felt good. I did it because people were keeping food out and if I trap/killed then another cat would just take their place. I educated my neighbors, told them what the plan was, and as a community we eliminated most of the problem.
Feral cats are living longer, I've had the smart ones live as long as 8 years and I have re-vaccinated them, using a catch-net instead of a feral cat trap and having the vaccine on hand, the only problem was rabies which needs to be done by a DVM to be legally recognized despite the ability to purchase the vaccine without a Rx. Most feral cats don't live past two years. Based on the time of capture, the time of innoculation (even if they haven't had their 12 week antigen buildup), add environmental factors- weather, cars, anti-freeze, pesticides, etc. You're looking at maybe 6 months of a cat having titers lower than required to be completely innoculated. Then subtract 12 week incubation periods IF they are infected from the dates that their titers are no longer good enough, and you only have a few short months of possible infection before the average feral cat dies from environmental causes.
One way to know if someone is doing TNVR for feel-good reasons is how they see the cats. In the past years I've learned (for lack of terminology) intermediate rankings in the biological classifications of felines from fellow TNVR volunteers that I find helpful in recognizing the difference of these animals
Feral: An animal in a wild state after escaping captivity or domestication, these animals are usually several generations removed from domestication, but not enough generations removed to be considered wild due to their reliance on human intervention (whether medical or resources) to survive.
Stray: An animal that is no longer a part of the domestic environment that it relies on for survival.
Wild: Living or growing as a part of the natural environment, these animals and plants have never been domesticated or are so many generations removed from domestication that they no longer rely on human involvment to survive.
Tame: An animal that is wild by several generations and has been brought into a domestic setting or is tolerant of human interaction but does not need human involvment to survive. These animals are usually used in circus and zoo settings, wolf hybrids of the first few generations, and exotic kept pets that; in their natural environments would thrive and survive without human intervention.
Domestic: An animal that depends on human intervention for survival and seeks human attention. These animals are usually companion animals and have been many generations dependent on human intervention in medicine and resources to thrive.
Companion: An animal that is domestic and kept for the pleasure of the company of the animal. These animals are often used as service animals and therapy animals due to the emotional connection and friendships formed between the species.
Feral cats can not be companion animals because they do not want human interaction. They can not be domestic because they do not depend on humans for medical intervention or seek human attention. They can not be tame because they were never wild in the first place. They can not be wild because they are the creation of many generations of human intervention that has been unnaturally released into the environment. They can not be stray because they are too many generations removed from domestic life. If someone sees Feral cats as anything other than feral, they are most likely doing TNVR for the feel-good properties, not for the progress of elimination of the feral intermediate ranking of the feline species. This process of extinction is not fast, it doesn't happen overnight, and there are factors that will continue to alter the progress. You said that the TNVR progam is not at all helpful to the cats, think about how detrimental to the entire cat species (not everyone keeps their domestic cats indoors) if their population was not controlled and if FeLV FIV positive cats were not trapped and euthanized. I think it's very helpful in preventing the biological explosion of the feral ranking of the species and as a result, preventing the mass-spread of disease.
Feline Health Center
My classmate wrote a summary in easier terms that I found interesting. Many times we compare feral cats to our house cats and pity them for their suffering. They don't know any better though, and although it's sad for us, it's just how life is for them. They can't miss what they've never had, and usually they despise what they've never had when you try to domesticate them.
It would be similar to comparing a dingo to a carolina dog.. they look the same, they're the same species, but the dingo is classified as a subspecies (which I personally think feral cats should be a subspecies of the domestic cat).
|11-04-2012, 03:09 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
I do generally agree with most of what you're saying, but it's important to note that how old the animal is plays a serious role in what role they can become as an adult.
As an example, two of my cats were born to a feral mother yet they aren't anything like feral. If you catch feral kitten young enough they are extremely easy to tame and can become domesticated or companion animals. Simply being born 'feral' doesn't mean they are destined to grow up and be wild and there's nothing to be done about it.
IMO a very important part of TNR is taking any kittens young enough to be easily tamed and placing them in loving homes once they've been s/n and vetted. This is another way of reducing the population and preventing increases.
Becky and the cats: Jitzu (11), Torri (9), Doran (, and Muffin (
|11-04-2012, 03:31 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: near Washington, DC
Interesting report. My mind wants to create subcategories in the definitions/differences, and there are always exceptions. I started TNRing so I would have to feed the byproducts, i.e., kittens. And to keep the complaints for unit owners at a minimal. And then because it was the right thing to do.
Note that some non profit organizations who want to create low-cost s/n clinics run into problems with full service vets; those vets are afraid the s/n clinic will take away their bread and butter services. The cost to s/n a cat at a regular vet ranges from $300 to $800.
Stray and Tame animals can be re-domesticated depending upon why and when they became stray/tame. I am currently fostering just such a cat. (He is scent marking my shoes.) http://i1205.photobucket.com/albums/bb437/Ritz1954/TDResting.jpg
|11-21-2012, 08:57 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2011
while i am glad you do support TNR you seem to have fallen prey to the inaccurate info and blatant lies that are presented by zealots from the opposition.
* Yamane, A., J. Emoto and N. Ota. Factors affecting feeding order and social tolerance to kittens in the group-living feral cat (Felis catus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 52 (1997): 119-127
a study of a feral cat colony in Brooklyn found that the cats depended more on local garbage for food than on either prey or feeding by caregivers, and that the neighborhood produced enough garbage to feed three times more cats than actually lived in that area*
*Calhoon, Robert E. and Carol Haspel. Urban cat populations compared by season, subhabitat and supplemental feeding. Journal of Animal Ecology 58 (1989): 321-328
we could be like Macquarie Island, where, in 2000—after 15 years—cats were finally eradicated. forty-plus years of rabbit control was “reversed in only six years,” devastating the island’s vegetation. in addition, “a pulse of at least 103,000 mice and 36,600 rats have also entered the ecosystem since cat eradication.” *
*Bergstrom, D.M., et al., “Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island.” Journal of Applied Ecology. 2009. 46(1): p. 73–81
for more than 10,000 years, cats have lived outdoor lives, sharing the environment with birds and wildlife.
decades of studies prove that when cats do hunt—which is not nearly as often as they scavenge—they much prefer a diet of rodents. studies have shown cats to be far more efficient hunters when they sit and wait for prey—outside a rodent burrow, for example—than when they stalk and pounce, the way they approach birds*
*Fitzgerald, B. Mike and Dennis Turner. Hunting behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations. In The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behavior, 2nd Ed., Turner, Dennis C. and Patrick Bateson eds. (Cambridge University Press: New York, 2000) 153-154.
studies show that the animals caught by predators are generally weaker and more diseased than those killed by manmade source *1, *2
*1 Møller, Anders P., Johannes Erritzøe and Jan T. Nielsen. Frequency of fault bars in feathers of birds and susceptibility to predation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 97 (2009): 334-345
*2 Leyhausen, Paul. Cat Behavior: The Predatory and Social Behavior of Domestic and Wild Cats, (New York: Garland STPM Press, 1979), 78
one study found that “birds killed by cats had significantly lower mass, fat scores, and pectoral muscle mass scores” than birds of the same species killed by cars or windows*
* Baker, Philip J., et. al. Cats about town: is predation by free-ranging pet cats Felis catus likely to affect urban bird populations?. Ibis 150 (Suppl. 1) (200: 86-99
these studies indicate that cats are catching what some biologists refer to as the “doomed surplus”, animals who would not have lived, and so whose death does not affect overall population levels. *
* Lilith, Maggie. Do pet cats (Felis catus) have an impact on species richness and abundance of native mammals in low-density Western Australian Suburbia? Ph.D. thesis for Murdoch University, Western Australia. 2007
*1 Erickson, Wallace P., et al. A summary and comparison of bird mortality from anthropogenic causes with an emphasis on collisions. USDA Forest Service General Technical ReportPSW-GTR-191 (2005)
*2 Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service. Wildlife Services’ 2009 Program Data Reports: PDR G – Animals dispersed/killed or euthanized/freed- National Summary Table. USDA(2010)
by this logic i suppose we should aim for extinction of lions, right? after all, think of how many elands are killed by lions each day.
breed - yes, but the numbers that the "kill em all" bird zealots purport are totally incorrect. a study of “71 sexually intact female cats in nine managed feral cat colonies” found that: “Cats produced a mean of 1.4 litters/y, with a median of 3 kittens/litter (range, 1 to 6). Overall, 127 of 169 (75%) kittens died or disappeared before 6 months of age. Trauma was the most common cause of death.” *
*Nutter, F.B., Levine, J.F., and Stoskopf, M.K., “Reproductive capacity of free-roaming domestic cats and kitten survival rate.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2004. 225(9): p. 1399–1402
spread disease? owned cats and feral cats contract FeLV and FIV at an equally low rate (about 4%)*
*Prevalence of feline leukemia virus infection and serum antibodies against feline immunodeficiency virus in unowned free-roaming cat”, JAVMA, Vol 220, No. 5, March 1, 2002
a 2008 report found almost equally low rates of FIV and feline leukemia (FeLV) in feral cats (4.3%) and outdoor pet cats (5.8%)*
*Levy, Julie K, et al., "Seroprevalence of Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Infection among Cats in North America and Risk Factors for Seropositivity," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 228, no. 3 (2006): 371-376
a study of seven Trap-Neuter-Return programs from 2006 produced similar data: only 5.3% of the cats tested positive for one of those diseases*
* Wallace, Jennifer L, and Julie K Levy, "Population Characteristics of Feral Cats Admitted to Seven Trap-Neuter-Return Programs in the United States," Journal of Feline Medicine And Surgery 8 (2006): 279-284
after testing feral cats in Northern Florida for FIV, FeLV, and nine other infectious organisms, a 2002 study concluded that "feral cats assessed in this study posed no greater risk to human beings or other cats than pet cats." *1 *2
*1 Luria, Brian J, et al., "Prevalence of Infectious Diseases in Feral Cats in Northern Florida," Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 6 (2004): 287-296
*2 Lee, Irene T, et al., "Prevalence of Feline Leukemia Virus Infection and Serum Antibodies Against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in Unowned Free-Roaming Cats," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 220, no. 5 (2002): 620-622
“never before has a single species driven such profound changes to the habitats, composition and climate of the planet…” . “there are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record.”*
* Magurran, Anne E. and Maria Dornelas. Biological Diversity in a changing world. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (2010
"…[P]eople have always modified natural landscapes in the course of finding food, obtaining shelter, and meeting other requirements of daily life. What makes present-day human alteration of habitat the number-one problem for birds and other creatures is its unprecedented scale and intensity."*
* Tuxill, John. Losing strands in the web of life: Vol. 141. Worldwatch Papers. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute (199
"of the close to 8,000 animal species threatened with extinction, 99 percent are at
risk from human activities"*
* World Conservation Union Report (2007)
"Skunks and raccoons are major sources of rabies, and most cats who are faced with a challenge by a skunk or raccoon will run away, whereas a dog is more likely to attack. When faced with non-prey animals, cats are generally defensive animals rather than offensive animals, and the small rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, and rabbits that feral cats may hunt are rarely infected with rabies."*
* Roberta Lillich, DVM, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners
"Well-intentioned people argue that it is our humane responsibility to kill ferals kindly, rather than let them face the rigors and perils of an uncertain future. When I observe a recently caught feral cat, cringing in terror in the corner of its cage, I see a being not altogether unlike myself. If I were that feral facing immediate, albeit painless death, or a chance at life replete with all the perilous uncertainties it holds, I would choose life. And so for these ferals, I can choose no less." - Cole Mcfarland
A 2012 nationwide survey conducted by Alley Cat Rescue revealed similar longevity: one quarter of TNR organizations responding to the survey have colony cats in the 6–8 year range; 35 percent in the 9–12 year range, and 14 percent reported car*ing for cats 13 years of age or older.*
*Alley Cat Rescue (2012). Alley Cat Rescue’s National Feral Cat Survey.
catch and kill, other than being inhumane, is (fortunately) frowned on by the public. over 80% of americans believe that leaving a stray cat outside to live out his life is more humane than having the cat caught and killed.*
* Harris interactive
"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating to me."
Last edited by Whaler; 11-21-2012 at 09:01 PM.