Seriously torn TNR
So I'm flip flopping trying to decide what to do. There was a neighborhood stray that we were feeding over winter. There were other cats around too, Mr. Manx and Sally and they ate here as well. Once we determined that the stray had no owner and no one looking we brought him in but continued to feed the other community cats who came by. We would see one cat and then not see them for days weeks or even months (ie. The Manx) and then they'd show up again. There was one feral, Sally, who was always around and we decided that she was "our" cat too. Since we have no doubt that she is truly feral and not a stray.
But there was a cat who looks like a purebred Manx- right down to the ape-like facial features- and I assumed that it was someone's pet and therefore would be neutered. Of course I know that just because a cat looks like a purebred does not mean it is- but cats that look like purebreds are the first to get adopted. At my shelter they rarely make it out to the adoption floor before getting adopted by a volunteer or friend of a volunteer- even if they have IBS or have behavioral or litter issue due to being declawed. Here all cats adopted from shelters must be fixed before going home.
Two months ago a new cat- a stunning burmese type cat showed up. My first impulse was to scoop her up and wait to see if she had an owner come forward and if not I'd see if my shelter would accept her but, I knew I'd have to hold her during this wait time before our shelter would even think about taking her in and we had to keep the stray we had rescued in the basement at night because he was a problem peer. So we didn't really have a spot to hold the cat. I also thought that maybe this cat was owned and probably owned by the same person who owns the Manx. So I did the dumbest thing of all. I did nothing!
Now when I look out my window at night I see the Pretty kitty (the burmese look-alike) with three kittens. One of which is bigger than the others and has a stub tail ( a dominant genetic trait in a Manx). So apparently the possible purebreds have bred a little litter of kittens who clearly no one feels the need to fix...but me.
Yet, I AM torn because while I can classify cats as feral or long abandoned stray categories easily if they are clearly feral or clearly stray I'm lousy with knowing who is just an outdoor pet or a recent abandon. Half of me thinks the manx and petty kitty belong to owners who are just not taking care of them - letting them live outdoors 24/7 without being fixed and the other half of me thinks they must be strays. Their behavior denotes that they are somewhere between feral and stray- how would I know if they are owned if they are outside all day and all night.
pretty kitty comes out only after dusk keeps her distance but will walk past me as long as I'm sitting down to get to the food bowl.
The Manx is seen at all times of the day and night and will hang back a distance and wait for us to slowly move away before he will start eating.
If these cats are breeding and they will be feeding on my property isn't it my obligation to have them fixed? Is an obligation the same thing as a right? I worry that if I do TNR that an irate owner is going to get very angry at me. I also wonder that- at least with the pretty kitty with a little fostering she might become adoptable because while she is a little cautious, she is actually pretty brazen about approaching people.
I guess I am confused over what rights owners who let their uncollared, unfixed cats roam actually have and what rights I have to take them in, get them scanned for chips, post found cat ads on facebook sites, and local sites, shelters etc, get them neutered/ spayed and either adopted out or returned to my yard as part of a managed colony.
Right now my colony is not managed and growing and it's making me nervous because I know how well fed cats will reproduce exponentially and while I can afford to feed and vaccinate a colony of 7-12. I can't afford 270 or deal with the municipal restrictions because "attracting wildlife to your yard" is prohibited.
My neighborhood is a mix of cultures and languages and though our houses are so close together that you could consider the area between them to be an alley, we do not know a single neighbor. We have never had a single talk with anyone on our street.
As I see it I have the "burmese" and the "manx" and their three offspring to vet. I also had a new young cat (btwn 3-5mo) who I assume is feral or was abandoned while still a kitten as has started to meow at me for food but is very high-strung nervous. Yet it will run to eat at my feet and then there is Sally, whom we are just about ready to trap. It has taken her this long to let us get near her and she too is now willing to eat near me as long as I'm seated calmly. So there are 7 cats who are now regulars or semi-regulars and a handful of other cats that I only see out in the dark of night. I think there are less than 20 but more than 12 cats that I'd need to TNR to have an impact or start to stabilize the colony.
I gotta start TNR but what if I TNR someone's pet? I see a lot of angry posts on the internet written by people who let their cats out only to have them been fixed and ear tipped without their permission. Some want legal recourse.
I'm so torn. Having never TNR'd but feeling ready and well educated on the how-tos etc but I'd like some insight from people who have had to make these judgement calls before.