Action Alert Regarding Community Cats

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) hates feral cats.  As such, they are opposed to the only proven program – Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) – aimed at eliminating feral cats over time while minimizing costs.  That does not make sense, but then The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn’t exactly known for applying common sense to feral cat management.

In November, The Wildlife Society will hold its annual conference in Hawaii.  Among the workshops will be this one:

Influencing Local Scale Feral Cat Trap-Neuter-Release Decisions
Organizers: Tom Will, USFWS, Fort Snelling, MN Mike Green, USFWS, Portland, OR

In short, the USFWS is sending two staffers to Hawaii to conduct an all day workshop on how to combat compassionate citizens who are advocating for TNR in their communities.  If you pay taxes in the U.S., you are paying for this.  If you don’t like how your tax dollars are being spent here, Best Friends has an action alert all set up for you.

53 thoughts on “Action Alert Regarding Community Cats

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I have sent my message. I don’t know why so many think killing is the answer to all of our animal “problems”. It’s a darn shame. Wish we were a more humane people!

  2. Sorry, I’m too busy releasing Community Pet-Piranha into all your lakes and pools, and Community Black-Mambas into all your parks and backyards. And Community Pet-Pythons, and Community Pet Rattle-snakes, and Community Pet Zebra Mussels, and Community Asian Carp, and Community Invasive-Species of your choice. Demanding the very same protection for them as you want for your invasive-species cats.

    YOU MORONS.

    1. Hey – someone said Black Mambas – everybody panic!

      Are you involved with piranha trap-neuter-return in your community Woodsman? Or are you saying we should kill all these other animals too?

  3. Something is broke in a society where killing is a solution to anything. “Thou shall not kill” is a Commandment, not a suggestion.

    Stop this bus, I want off.

    Where’s Kapone?

  4. while I totally support tnr I see where the wildlife service has a conflict.. they are constantly pressured for the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club and others to contain ferals to protect other wildlife..Those agencies have their own agenda.. and it does not include feral cats.. here is a snippet from the Audubon society: “WHEREAS feral cat colony programs, wherein feral cats are captured, trapped, vaccinated, neutered and fed, do not eliminate predation on native wildlife or reduce the size of feral cat colonies; and from an article found on a trapping website:

    Sierra Club, Audubon and Humane Society in a Cat Fight
    9/1/11

    The fur is flying and sharp claws are swiping as the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are in a cat fight over the trapping of free-roaming cats in a national wildlife refuge.

    Feral and free-roaming cats are a problem anywhere they roam and pounce on songbirds and small animals, and more so when they roam in the National Key Deer Refuge in south Florida. There, the rampant cats prey on numerous endangered species, including federally protected white-crown pigeons, marsh rabbits, wood rats, and other species. As biologists conduct surveys to determine how many cats and other unwanted animals are in the area, a plan is developing to trap and control the free-ranging cats.

    Oddly, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society are on record in favor of trapping. You read it here first, the Sierra Club and Audubon Society support trapping! (At least in this instance.) However, HSUS has waded into the furry feline fight, and this group remains true to its core values—opposing trapping and asking the public to send them dollars. They say those dollars will be used to find homes for the cats. By the way, no mention of any HSUS shelters to take in the unwanted felines – those shelters are apparently endangered species themselves.

    To date, game trail cameras—the same type as used by hunters, and developed for hunters, and sold to hunters everywhere—have captured more than 7,000 images in the Refuge. Those photos clearly show that feral cats roam the same areas as the marsh rabbits and other wildlife. Feral and pet cats have been well documented to prey on rabbits and birds. Now, all those noted and photographed cats are being included in the refuge’s predator management plan, and trapping is included in those plans—make that foot-hold trapping of the cats to be more specific.

    As public comments pour in, it seems that the Sierra Club, Audubon of Florida, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) are supporting trapping and are urging their members to comment in favor of trapping. HSUS weighed in against the trapping project and urges its members to send money to them to fight this animal cruelty. Isn’t it funny that HSUS is opposing a program that would protect endangered species?

    It’s ironic to see the nation’s largest anti-hunting and anti-trapping group is now opposing something it collects millions of dollars for each year—protecting endangered species.
    http://www.ussportsman.org

    Interesting conundrum for the HSUS.. pretty clear on Audubon and Sierra.

    1. Alice,

      I’m curious to know why, if the evidence is as damning as you suggest, none of the 7,000 trail camera photos were included in the draft version of the Florida Keys Integrated Predator Management Plan, released earlier this year. Or any other compelling evidence, for that matter. Although USFWS has been conducting this witch-hunt for years now, they still lack even the most basic grasp of the problem. There’s no mention of how many cats are actually in the Keys, for example. Or what they eat.

      Also conspicuously absent is an explanation for their pathetic 2003 roundup—when USFWS paid USDA $50,000 to trap feral cats in the Keys. As I understand it, 13 cats and several dozen raccoons were brought to justice. There’s nothing in the most recent predator management plan to suggest that they’ll do any better this time around.

      But that’s not the worst of it; two of the plan’s more egregious flaws (which I discuss in greater detail on my blog: http://www.voxfelina.com/2011/02/keys-to-the-future/):

      1. The USFWS proposal to remove feral cats from the Keys through trapping is simply impractical. Indeed, such efforts have proven ineffective time and time again. “Successful” eradication efforts are brutal. Consider, for example, what was done on Marion Island, where—despite being only 115-square-miles in size, barren, and uninhabited—it took 19 years to eradicate about 2,200 cats. Using disease (feline distemper), poisoning, intensive hunting and trapping, and dogs.

      Even if we set aside for the moment the cruelty involved, how would this be possible in the Keys? And who would pay for it?

      2. If the cats were removed, the population of non-native rats would likely skyrocket—and decimate the very populations of native birds, mice, and rats USFWS is trying to protect. As would the use of rodenticides that they would use ordinarily to control the population of rats. These are well-known risks.

      Not only does USFWS fail to address either point in their “plan,” they don’t even acknowledge that such challenges exist. But then, USFWS has been dishonest about this tax-funded witch-hunt along.

      Tackling the complex issue of feral cats in the Keys requires that the stakeholders—including, of course, the general public—be well informed. USFWS is clearly not going to do the job—it’s time for the media to start asking better questions!

      Peter J. Wolf
      http://www.voxfelina.com

  5. This sounds like a repackaged version of the presentation workshop organizer Tom Will gave to the Bird Conservation Alliance last year. “What Can Federal Agencies Do? Policy Options to Address Cat Impacts to Birds and Their Habitats” (PDF available via the Animal Liberation Front Website: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/Pets/PetCare/Cats/ABC%20Cats-TNR-Policy%20Will%2028Jan10.pdf) was short on science and long on rhetoric (and plenty of misinformation, too).

    Will grossly exaggerates predation rates, for example, by citing (as if it were scientifically sound) a back-of-the-envelope calculation pulled from a birder’s advice column about defending his garden from neighborhood cats (“…try a B-B or pellet gun. There is no need to kill or shoot toward the head, but a good sting on the rump seems memorable for most felines, and they seldom return for a third experience.”).

    And he completely bastardizes cat ownership data, using it to suggest that the population of outdoor cats (owned and unowned alike) has tripled over the past 40 years.

    All of which raises serious doubts about USFWS’s commitment, spelled out by its Office of External Affairs (http://www.fws.gov/informationquality/), “to using sound science in its decision-making and to providing the American public with information of the highest quality possible.”

    Will was scheduled to put on a Webinar, hosted by USFWS’s National Conservation Training Center, on this same topic in June (http://www.voxfelina.com/2011/06/spoiler-alert/), but it was cancelled at the last minute due to “an overwhelming response” resulting in “logistical barriers.”

    If USFWS insists on continuing its tax-funded witch-hunt against free-roaming cats, then the people footing the bill have a right to know what’s going on—without making the trip to Hawaii.

    Peter J. Wolf
    http://www.voxfelina.com

  6. This is kind of off subject, but why are we having taxpayer financed conferences in the most remote and expensive state with the present state of the economy or for that matter at any time…and I would be livid to know they are planning to harm feral cats…

    1. If you follow some of the links, they “harm” feral cats in some of the most cruel ways imaginable – leg-hold traps, poisoning, introducing disease. It is totally and completely beyond comprehension how these people process “information” cause I sure don’t call it “thinking”! This makes me angry and sad all at the same time.

      Seems as if we still haven’t figured out that nature has a way of balancing herself and that manmade intrustions end up creating more problems than they solve.

      I feed the bird and squirrels (and any other critters who happen to come by). And I see the hawks take my mourning doves (I know, they are not endangered and some think they are pests) but it still pains me. Does the hawk have more value than the dove? Nope – but it’s not for me to make that decision anyway.

      Sorry if I seem to ramble, but we humans have screwed things up pretty badly and the animals always seem to pay the ultimate price – normally with their lives being ended.

  7. FYI – “Woodsman” has been escorted from the building after a lengthy diatribe (now resting in comment purgatory) on how to kill cats. So that fun is all over.

  8. Tell me again how TNR stops the murder of wildlife by released cats, aided and abetted by TNR practitioners? Because I don’t see it. Populations do NOT reduce over time because of the simple fact of high reproductive output of cats, continued feeding 365 days a year and the fact that NO program can trap and neuter 100% and not even the 70% required by the models on population reduction. Be honest with everyone Peter. TNR is NOT about population reduction, it’s about perpetual maintenance. Maintenance that KILLs other species. Why is it inhumane to euthanize a cat, but not inhumane to release that cat knowing full well that it will kill chipmunks, cardinals, anoles, etc? Why do you get to wear the banner of humane? It is NOT humane and MORE sentient beings are killed when you release a non-native predator. Not to mention that the cat has a high likelihood of being killed by by a coyote or a car itself. No sir, you are wrong PETA is right. TNR is inhumane and should not be sold as a solution for communities.

    1. Perhaps it’s impolite to answer a question with another question—but are you suggesting that there’s a difference between a cat “murdering” chipmunks, cardinals, anoles, etc. and, say, a hawk killing those same animals? Frankly, I don’t think its predation that you’re objecting to at all; on the contrary, the focus is solely on free-roaming cats.

      You claim that populations of managed colonies of (sterilized) cats do not reduce over time. How, then to explain the success stories? A few of the more thoroughly documented examples:

      1. Researchers observed a 36 percent average decrease among six sterilized colonies in the first two years of their study, while three unsterilized colonies experienced an average 47 percent increase over the same period (Stoskopf & Nutter, 2004). A four-year follow-up census revealed that one colony had been reduced from 10 cats to none; at seven years, another colony originally containing 10 cats had been reduced to one cat (Nutter, 2005).

      2. In Italy, 2000–2001 survey of caretakers responsible for 103 cat colonies revealed a 22 percent decrease overall in the number of cats despite a 21 percent rate of “cat immigration.” Although some colonies experienced initial increases, numbers began to decrease significantly after three years of TNR: “colonies neutered 3, 4, 5 or 6 years before the survey showed progressive decreases of 16, 29, 28 and 32 percent, respectively” (Natoli et al., 2006).

      3. Between 1996 and 2002, a TNR program on the campus of the University of Central Florida reduced cat population from 68 to 23, a reduction of more than 66 percent. The project, launched in 1991, involved the adoption of more than 47 percent of the campus’ socialized cats and kittens. The study’s authors emphasize the importance of adoptions and “an ongoing surveillance and maintenance program” for “new arrivals” if TNR programs are to be successful (Levy, Gale, & Gale, 2003).

      There are numerous examples of similar successes that aren’t documented in such detail simply because the programs weren’t part of a formal research study.

      As the UCF study makes clear, adoption is critical to the success of TNR programs. Although TNR practitioners know this from firsthand experience, population models (such as the one you refer to) ignore adoptions entirely. Interestingly, although Andersen et al. (2004) acknowledge this shortcoming openly, this critical point is often omitted from those citing their work to oppose TNR.

      Let’s set aside the humane/inhumane argument for the moment and ask whether or not we can kill our way out of the “feral cat problem.” Experience suggests that we cannot—a point made abundantly clear when one considers what “successful” eradications program involve.

      On Marion Island (115 square miles in total area, barren, and uninhabited), located in the South Indian Ocean, it took 19 years to eradicate approximately 2,200 cats, using disease (feline distemper), poisoning, intensive hunting and trapping, and dogs (Bloomer & Bester, 1992).

      On Ascension Island (34 square miles, and a population <1,000), eradication efforts (~635 cats killed over 27 months) cost the equivalent of $1.1M (Ratcliffe et al., 2010).

      Now, are you suggesting that trap-and-kill “should be sold as a solution to communities”? Where’s the evidence—in light of what we know of island eradications—to suggest that it’s even possible?

      Literature Cited
      Andersen, M. C., Martin, B. J., & Roemer, G. W. (2004). Use of matrix population models to estimate the efficacy of euthanasia versus trap-neuter-return for management of free-roaming cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(12), 1871–1876.
      Bloomer, J. P., & Bester, M. N. (1992). Control of feral cats on sub-Antarctic Marion Island, Indian Ocean. Biological Conservation, 60(3), 211-219.
      Levy, J. K., Gale, D. W., & Gale, L. A. (2003). Evaluation of the effect of a long-term trap-neuter-return and adoption program on a free-roaming cat population. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 222(1), 42-46.
      Natoli, E., Maragliano, L., Cariola, G., Faini, A., Bonanni, R., Cafazzo, S., et al. (2006). Management of feral domestic cats in the urban environment of Rome (Italy). Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 77(3-4), 180–185.
      Nutter, F. B. (2005). Evaluation of a Trap-Neuter-Return Management Program for Feral Cat Colonies: Population Dynamics, Home Ranges, and Potentially Zoonotic Diseases. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.
      Ratcliffe, N., Bell, M., Pelembe, T., Boyle, D., Benjamin, R., White, R., et al. (2010). The eradication of feral cats from Ascension Island and its subsequent recolonization by seabirds. Oryx, 44(01), 20–29.
      Stoskopf, M. K., & Nutter, F. B. (2004). Analyzing approaches to feral cat management—one size does not fit all. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(9), 1361–1364.

      1. “As the UCF study makes clear, adoption is critical to the success of TNR programs”
        Interesting you point this out. Adopting cats out of colonies is a form of Trap-And-REMOVE.
        Most of the population reduction in the UCF study was due to removing cats.

        It appears that the 3 studies you cite all measured cat populations at the managed colony level. Were any attempts made to measure the entire cat populations for the areas involved? How do you really know they were successful then?

        If you are measuring “success” by counting cats in individual managed colonies, trap and remove can easily work faster – considering you’ve already had to trap all of the cats in the colony in the first place.

      2. The adoption aspect is clearly focused on socialized adult cats (which are not going to be the norm in a feral colony) and kittens. TNR is used for the feral adult cats.

      3. Adoption will also apply to kittens removed from the colony, as sterilization of all adults takes time.

      4. I guess my point was that the studies that Peter cited aren’t just about TNR. They also use trap and remove (for the friendlier cats and kittens). Removing the cats reduced the cat population by a greater percentage than returning them (according to the UCF study)..

      5. Shirley, you did say kittens. I didn’t see it. I’ve just not been at my best this week.

      6. Thanks, Shirley. Nice to know!

        On the feral cat front, I’ve not known any colony caretakers who’ve *not* removed and/or relocated those cats for whom it was most suitable – I’ve gathered it’s just considered a part of good colony management, and certainly the major feral cat charity where I live regularly offers cats and kittens for adoption, as well as facilitating moves where necessary. So, if there is any one-size-fits-all approach to TNVR – or any other form of feral cat management – I’ve not seen it.

        I will say, I’m very happy that TNVR has become the standard where I live, because back when I was young there were bloodbaths every year or so, with cats typically shot and poisoned – on top of the killing done by people on their own, in whatever way was handy – and it never did any good. What it *did* do was foster a culture of cruelty, where feral cats were regarded as fair game for any atrocity because they were going to die anyway. I never, ever want to see those days come back, myself, and I’m flummoxed *anyone* would, however much they may dislike cats.

      7. I don’t like seeing bloodbaths either. I keep my cats under control, but a former neighbor’s one outdoor cat killed every chipmunk in several neighbors’ backyards including ours! Is that not a bloodbath too? I once saw a kitten catch a fledgling robin. Does its life not matter too? I have many more examples.

        I fear that the return part of TNR often sets a precedent that it is appropriate and unavoidable for our cats to roam. This is not a culture of life or respect for others either.
        Not all feral cat colonies are managed to the “ideal” standard. I’ve seen too much voluntary compliance and heard too many excuses. I’ve come across many examples of cats that were tame but not removed – because, of course it is hard to find homes for all of them!

        I don’t advocate running around shooting every cat in sight – but I think that TNR gives a false sense of harmony. I think the focus needs to be more on responsible pet ownership – feral cats are the symptom. People need to take care of and control their pets and must face consequences if they don’t!

      8. Ann, what I’m hearing are the same stories I’ve always heard used to justify killing cats.

        Yes, cats will kill small animals and insects. I keep my cats indoors, and even so, I’ve dealt with my share of unzipped mice.

        However, a lot of the things we use everyday also kill animals wild and not, including but not limited to: cars, power lines and other electrical equipment, turbines both wind and water, pesticides and toxic runoff, sewage, collisions with boats and propellers, the various perils of litter and generations’ worth of lost lead shot, loss, degradation and discontinuity of habitat, erection of barriers to essential resources such as water.

        I once argued this issue with a man who, eventually, frankly admitted that he wanted to see any and all loose cats trapped and killed because – compared to efforts to control much more destructive human activities – it was easy to do. He also admitted he found it personally satisfying, because it *felt* like something was being done, even if in real terms it was so much pissing in the wind.

        As for promoting spay/neuter and better pet-keeping practices that’s *also* being done – what on earth gives you the impression otherwise? – and it’s made for tremendous improvements in cats’ lives in my lifetime. I’ve also seen keeping pet cats indoors become fairly common – when I started back in the 70s everyone thought I was touched in the head. But, it’s also true that there will *always* be irresponsible pet-owners; it’s just not something we can legislate away, nor is it something we can reasonably ignore. There will *always* be abandoned and stray animals, and we will *always* have to find ways to cope with them – preferably, far preferably, in ways that don’t compound the cruelty already done to them.

        Finally, about those unzipped mice? Personally, I find that a lot less obnoxious than the neighbors who put poison out for rodents, so I wound up with their pathetic rotting corpses in my crawlspace, and another neighbor had not only that but a dead family of crows.

        Bottom line: there are no harmless choices. Only somewhat less harmful ones. And myself, I’d rather have ferals than fools.

      9. Eucritta,

        I am very happy about the enormous strides that have been taken in improving pet care and responsibility over the decades. But, I don’t see TNR as a step forward on this front. Rather it is a move backward. Legalizing TNR creates a class of un-owned pets with standards of care lower than what is required for our other pets. Responsibilities of caretakers are less than that of pet owners. If the standards were the same, there would be no need for laws to legalize it.

        I’m also hearing the same stories used to justify TNR.
        TNR doesn’t end the killing. TNR shifts killing cats to killing other animals. Is it a less harmful choice? That depends on how you measure harm. I would argue that it is not on several levels.
        “Returning” cats is a value judgment – people who do it are doing it because they prefer cats. But is it appropriate to violate a neighbor’s property rights because you want to maintain outdoor cats? Is it appropriate to violate laws like the ESA and MBTA because you want to maintain outdoor cats?

        Does TNR actually work? It is not a “proven” method according to the studies cited by groups like ACA. Those studies have incompletely measured its effectiveness. How do we really know that it is better than “doing nothing”? I’ve seen many who practice TNR fall prey to the “concord fallacy” – they’ve put so much effort into it that they feel that can’t turn back. As Esteban said below, TNR has been around for 20+ years – and it still has not proven effective.

        Yes, we humans do so much destruction in the world around us! But does that mean we should ignore what is going on in our own backyards? Cats are exotic predators (that we brought) with different hunting patterns (that we bred for) than the native ones. They have not been shown to prefer non-native species to native ones (there has been some research to the contrary). When we subsidize and manage colonies of cats, we are creating unnatural concentrations of (and altered habitat use patterns) these predators that hunt even when they are not hungry. Why should we assume that their impact doesn’t matter? At the very least, it matters to me and the wild creatures that share my yard!

      10. Ann, you’ve essentially just restated the same argument I quoted from the man I argued with – now some 20 years ago.

        That argument, by the way, was about the purported slaughter of quails in Golden Gate Park by feral cats. In actual fact what had decimated the quail population – and very rapidly, far more so than the fairly low number of known cats in the park could’ve managed – was the removal of low cover and brush essential to the quails’ survival, which was done to make it easier to roust out homeless folk sleeping in the park. Where there was still cover, there were still quail – as I saw myself, as I was doing some research at the Academy of Sciences at the time and walked through the park in the early morning most weekdays. In addition to adults, that year I saw one pair successfully raise four chicks, which struck me as pretty good in a park which also had a flourishing population of hawks. They were putting up owl boxes, too, and importing barn owls, as there’d been a population explosion among the ground squirrels and rats. Come to think of it, that’s also a fairly good indicator that the feral cats weren’t that much of a threat.

        Interestingly with a view to this discussion, the man I was arguing with also refused to believe me about the quail. And he wouldn’t go look, either, though he said (this was on USENET, so I never met him face-to-face) he lived near the park.

      11. Eucrita,

        So, in your example… are you saying feral cats don’t make good ‘mousers’? I thought that was one of the arguments for keeping them around… Sounds like the hawks and owls were thought to do a better job.
        Yes, removing a prey species’ cover can hurt them – by making them more vulnerable to predators (like the cats, and the raptors too). You could say, in areas where habitat has been greatly altered by us humans (like city parks and our backyards), that it is even more important not to encourage concentrations of [exotic] predators.
        Small, spread out populations of cats may not always be a problem. But, when cats are regularly fed so that they form colonies, as in TNR, you are creating unnatural concentrations of subsidized predators. Cats still hunt when they are fed.
        And here is one of many possible scenarios: A cat stalks a quail. It sees the cat and flushes up to get away from it. A nearby hawk, which was waiting over a rodent trail, now sees the quail and catches it – the quail was still paying attention to the cat.
        Sure, some of the quail may successfully fledge young. But do you know if those young survived long enough to fly? Do you know if 1 pair raising 4 young is enough to stabilize or grow the park’s population of quail? Or is the park a population sink? How do you know that the cats didn’t take advantage of the park’s change in ground cover?

        I see this argument all the time: “There are lots of birds in my yard, so my cat must not be affecting them!” But, what is the species diversity and density? Are they successfully fledging young (and are the fledglings surviving)? Does the population rely on immigration? Etc. Ecological interactions can be very complex.

        And, again, TNR has not been proven to eliminate cat populations (as the blog poster claimed). I haven’t seen any studies that can really demonstrate that it even helps. I think Esteban makes some good comments on this below.

  9. Is it really as simple as this? Many people cannot accept the euthanasia of feral cats because they SEE that death. They do not see the chipmunk with it’s guts ripped out as the cat continues to play with his kill. They do not see the cardinal with it’s head ripped off as the cat consumes prey that it does not need to survive, and they also do not see the cat ripped apart alive by the coyote that has found the cat colony and realizes these prey items are easier to catch than rabbits. Peter constantly gets into the numbers involved as if a million dead birds are some how less disconcerting than 6 million. There is zero chance that trap and remove will endanger the population of cats as a species, does that mean he should not be concerned about that? Why couldn’t a group advocate the removal of feral cats and their housing in outdoor enclosures in cat-friendly homeowner back yards. Surely that is something we could ALL get behind.

    1. Let me get this straight: on the one hand, you are adamant that TNR cannot possibly work, but housing the millions of feral cats in outdoor enclosures seems like something we can all get behind?

      If we are to believe the American Bird Conservancy (something I discourage), there are 60–120 million feral cats in the U.S. (as is their habit, ABC doesn’t cite any source for this figure). Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there are only 10 million (the lowest estimate I’ve seen). Are you suggesting that we’re going to house 10 million feral cats in backyard enclosures?

      The idea of sanctuaries (which has been suggested by various TNR opponents for years now: http://www.voxfelina.com/2010/07/sanctuary-in-name-only/) is, at best, disingenuous. There are a whole host of practical problems—beginning with the expense involved—that make this a deal-breaker. The great appeal to proponents (among them, ABC), I suppose, is that it seems like a real compromise to the general public unfamiliar with the issue; it’s safe, politically. Also appealing is that fact that it demands nothing whatsoever of TNR opponents—no effort, no expense, etc. What’s not to like? (By contrast, we’re all paying for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s witch-hunt against free-roaming cats in the Florida Keys and elsewhere.)

      Like you, I’m interested in solutions we can all get behind. The first requirement, though, is that such solutions actually be feasible.

      Peter J. Wolf
      http://www.voxfelina.com

      1. I think Esteban makes some good points.

        Many people are opposed to Euthanasia because it can be a more visible form of death. Many of us want to ignore the other more violent forms of death he described.
        Here is another one: FACTORY FARMED animals raised to feed our pet and TNR cats (and much of the US human population). Even if these cats were fed organic free range diets, how do you think their meals were killed? Not from old age.

        If you can’t accept Euthanasia for unwanted cats- then take personal responsibility and make them wanted.
        I know people that do exactly what Esteban suggests. They put feral cats that they catch in enclosures in their own backyards and take full responsibility for them. Not really such a leap past TNR, but a whole lot more people are OK with it!

        I think the sanctuaries Peter is mentioning are on a whole different scale – it doesn’t have to be that way..

  10. Ann,

    It’s important to put those adoptions into context. With something like 2–3 million cats (many of them perfectly adoptable) killed in shelters every year, it’s clear that the “supply” of cats vastly exceeds demand. So, while adoptions are a critical component of a successful TNR program, they are only one aspect.

    And how do those cats find their way into homes? Vigilant caregivers. (College campuses, by the way, tend to have high adoption rates because many of cats found there were, until just recently, pets.) Those adoptions are highly unlikely if you’re expecting your local animal control officer(s) to respond to every call about a stray cat, locate the cats, determine which are adoptable, which are not, etc. This is pretty much the “system” we’ve been using for generations without success.

    You make a fair point about measures of success. The only study I’m aware of that attempted to look at area population levels affected by TNR involved “feral cats assessed from 1992 to 2003 in San Diego County, California (n = 14,452) and from 1998 to 2004 in Alachua County, Florida (11,822).” (http://www.avma.org/avmacollections/feral_cats/javma_227_11_1775.pdf) The authors developed mathematical models based on how many cats showed up to their clinic already sterilized—the assumption being that if TNR is effective, the proportion of sterilized cats coming into the clinic would increase over time.

    Some opponents of TNR have focused on the authors’ results: “In both counties, results of analyses did not indicate a consistent reduction in per capita growth, the population multiplier, or the proportion of female cats that were pregnant.” (Foley, Foley, Levy, & Paik, 2005) Sounds like some pretty damning evidence, right?

    In fact, the methods employed left a great deal of room for error in terms of estimating the population of feral cats. The only way a cat could be counted as a “success” was if it were returned to the clinic. Obviously, cats that were adopted weren’t going to be counted, then. (For what it’s worth: I know plenty of people who own friendly cats that were pulled out of colonies as adults—even “veterans.” It often takes time for them to come around to trusting people again; they are TNR’d first, and adopted later.)

    More critical—in terms of accurate modeling—is the fact that cats already sterilized as part of a TNR program (whether or not they were in a managed colony) would only rarely show up at the clinic a second time. These cats are typically ear-tipped for easy identification, and would therefore be freed if they were trapped. In other words, the “success” stories were only rarely counted as such. Hence, the results do not reflect the actual success of the TNR programs in the area. (I’ve spoken to one of the study’s authors, by the way, who confirmed the accuracy of my assessment.)

    Finally, you suggest that “trap and remove can easily work faster.” Are you assuming that colony caretakers will trap cats they know will be killed at the local shelter? After all, not all of the cats are adoption candidates; indeed, these are the exceptions. Caretakers will, I can assure you, not support roundups of cats—either directly, or through tax-funded trap-and-kill efforts.

    Critics of TNR imply that trap-and-kill is a kind of baseline. But where has it proved effective? Again, I refer readers to the island eradications cited in my previous comment. Clearly, we’re not going to scale up the Marion Island approach to communities across the U.S. (Marion Island, remember, had an estimated population of 2,200 feral cats; compare that with the numbers of free-roaming cats brought into the San Diego (14,452) and Alachua County (11,822) clinics mentioned above.)

    So why do we discuss the issue as if trap-and-kill is feasible? The bar is much, much lower than TNR critics generally acknowledge (or even recognize, I’m afraid). One wonders how much further along we’d be if the conversation could move beyond the vigorous defense of this unworkable approach to feral cat management.

    Peter J. Wolf
    http://www.voxfelina.com

    Literature Cited

    Foley, P., Foley, J. E., Levy, J. K., & Paik, T. (2005). Analysis of the impact of trap-neuter-return programs on populations of feral cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 227(11), 1775–1781.

    1. Peter,
      I’m glad you acknowledge that the effectiveness of TNR is actually very poorly documented. And yet TNR proponents are very hung up on it as the only “proven” option.
      I’ll also note that some of the studies done describe it as a method to “stabilize” the cat population (not eliminate it).
      I’d like to see some research of TNR and other methods (ie. Trap and remove) done side by side.

      I wonder about the feasibility of TNR on a large scale? How much time and money would need to be involved in that? Volunteer hours have a very real value –they are not free. Donations cost somebody money.

      Personally, I see that there is still the very real problem of unaltered pets and their irresponsible owners. I wonder what could be accomplished on this front if those who did TNR focused on them instead. Feral cats are the symptom of a different culture and irresponsible pet ownership – don’t you think the cause needs to be treated first?

      Finally, I think it is helpful to look at how other species are managed. Methods similar to TNR have been studied – and are almost never used (except on our pets, but we seem to still have trouble with overpopulation). Methods similar to trap and remove are far more common. There are other management tools as well (like managing a landscape or backyard to be more or less favorable to a desired or disliked species, laws to control human behavior, etc).
      We’ve already discussed that TNR is rarely done with only “Return”. “Remove” is often a very important part. There are often other methods employed as well. However, I think if we look at many cases where TNR is practiced, “Return’ing the cats to their capture site is not actually necessary for cat population control and rarely prevents (or often causes or perpetuates) other detrimental effects (whatever metric you want to use).

  11. Ann, if you don’t find my arguments persuasive, that’s fine. But please do not put words in my mouth. I never claimed, as you suggest, that the “effectiveness of TNR is actually very poorly documented.”

    Regarding “other management tools,” again I refer you to the island eradication examples. How do you and the other TNR opponents plan to scale these methods up to the continental U.S. Where’s the money going to come from? Etc.

    1. Peter,
      you said:
      “You make a fair point about measures of success. The only study I’m aware of that attempted to look at area population levels affected by TNR involved “feral cats assessed from 1992 to 2003 in San Diego County, California (n = 14,452) and from 1998 to 2004 in Alachua County, Florida (11,822).” (http://www.avma.org/avmacollections/feral_cats/javma_227_11_1775.pdf)”

      So, how has the effectiveness of TNR been well documented? The study you cited above obviously had some shortcomings. The studies you cited earlier had some significant exclusions. How can anyone say it a proven method without further examination? In fact, if you look at research on other species, it has generally been found to be impractical and ineffective. By the way, where is the money going to come from to practice TNR on a continental scale?

      As far as other management tools… I never said dealing with the feral cat overpopulation problem was ever going to be easy. I don’t think it is practical or necessary to initiate the exact eradication methodology mentioned (for islands) across the entire continental US. There are more options. Esteban sited some good ones below. However, I think making it easier for more people to maintain free-roaming unowned cats with minimal responsibility is certainly a step in the wrong direction.

  12. Peter, why dont you address the humane question?. More deaths via factory farming (for cat food) and more deaths to prey caused by the reabandonment of a non-native predator into the environment. It’s fine to admit that you favor the life of a cat over all other sentient beings. I admit I favor native wildlife that evolved with it’s natural prey-predator relationships.

    1. Esteban,

      Are you now suggesting that, among the enormous impacts of factory farming, the manufacturing of pet food is anything more than a drop in the bucket? Seriously?

      Are you suggesting, too, that predation by native species—raptors, say—is more humane than predation by non-native species? I grew up watching Wild Kingdom, where I learned that Nature is often brutal—regardless of whether a particular animal is native or non-native (which, by the way, is not nearly as easily defined as most people would like to assume). As I’ve mentioned in an earlier comment, I don’t think for a moment that the objection here is to predation as such—however “humane”—but to the cats.

      I wonder how your preference for native wildlife translates to your diet. After all, nearly everything—plants and animals alike—you’ll find on American farms is non-native (including the chickens that end up in pet food). If the idea is to eradicate the non-native plants and animals, we’ve got far more work to do than deal with cats!

      Frankly, this whole humane/inhumane native/non-native “argument” is little more than a red herring anyhow—a convenient distraction promoted by the American Bird Conservancy, The Wildlife Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others. Meanwhile, we tend to lose sight of the fact that we’re ALL interested in reducing the number of “homeless” cats in the environment.

      But how?

      I realize I’m probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but I’ve yet to get an answer: How would TNR opponents scale up the approach used for island eradications—the only “success stories” for using lethal methods to get rids of cats—for use in the continental U.S.? ABC, TWS, and USFWS have been implying for years that there’s a way (indeed, USFWS has spent plenty of tax dollars on this fool’s errand), so come the answer’s still so elusive?

      Because there is no plan. As somebody interested in protecting native wildlife, doesn’t that frustrate and anger you?

      Peter J. Wolf
      http://www.voxfelina.com

      1. A bit off-topic, but if the idea is to eliminate non-natives, it’s also just not possible. The very microbes in the soil have probably been altered significantly since the arrival of Europeans. But, more than that, we don’t have anywhere near a clear idea of what the pre-contact environment was like – the most accurate reconstructions are based on analyses of faunal remains and microconstituents recovered in archaeological excavation, but the archaeological record is perforce fragmentary – what survives is a very small proportion of the likely whole – and biased, in that the remains of animals and plants from archy sites are overwhelmingly food discards.

        If anyone is interested in these issues (as well as that of ‘native’ v. ‘non-native’), I strongly recommend the works of R Lee Lyman, particularly White Goats, White Lies: The Abuse of Science at Olympic National Park, University of Utah Press 1998; and the compendium co-edited with KP Cannon, Zooarchaeology and Conservation Biology, University of Utah Press 2004.

      2. Let’s take my yard as an example (micro-scale). I have landscaped with native and non-native (but non-invasive) plants that provide food and cover to wildlife. To make up (in some small way) for the habitat lost due to my very existence. When feral cats show up, I don’t feed them. I trap them and remove them to the local shelter. Some of them might be adoptable, some of them will be euthanized. I’m okay with that. In the 8 years I’ve been there I have more chipmunks, cotton rats, and birds that make it through the post-fledging periods. It is a great feeling for me to provide habitat for native wildlife. Were I to feed the feral cat and let it live in my yard, it would do so at the expense of native wildlife. Maybe it wouldn’t affect the populations of chipmunks, cotton rats, and birds, but it would clearly impact the lives of individuals. This is a judgement I make. I take responsibility for the death of the feral cat in exchange for the many native lives the cat would take. If enough people take the same responsibility – aka trap and remove on their own properties, we would begin to get a handle on overpopulation. BUT when people do this they are vilified by people like you Peter. They are treated as evil people…….because the perception is that they are LESS humane then those that re-release cats back into an environment to kill native wildlife. Of course natural predation is just as ‘inhumane’ as non-native predation. But humans are NOT responsible for the predation. YOU are responsible for the predation when you open that trap door and release the feral cat.

      3. As far as non-TNR solutions. 1) Mandatory spay and neuter for every cat sold or adopted by agencies, stores, or individuals. 2) Mandatory micro-chipping to allow re-homing of stray cats or to trace back an abandoned cat to the responsible party. 3) a ban on outdoor feeding of cats to reduce fecundity of outdoor cats. 4) open-intake of cats at shelters and animal control facilities. TNR has been tried for 20+ years and the overall cat population still appears to be increasing. (confirming the AVMA’s conclusion that “…the reduction in the total number of free-roaming cats these programs will effect is insignificant.”) Hence these methods should not be sold to municipalities as a solution to the feral cat population.

      4. Peter,

        You said:
        “Are you now suggesting that, among the enormous impacts of factory farming, the manufacturing of pet food is anything more than a drop in the bucket? Seriously? ”

        Do you mean to trivialize the horrible deaths and torture of even just a few more animals because they are just “a drop in the bucket?”

        I, for one, am absolutely appalled that someone who claims to be so concerned with treating animals humanely could excuse something like factory farming on ANY level.
        I realize cats must eat meat. But, if you claim to be humane in your treatment of animals, feeding cats innocent creatures that were brutally and needlessly mistreated on factory farms is totally unacceptable!

        Please tell me you don’t feel that way!

        If you must practice TNR, don’t feed those cats factory farmed animals. Ever. Period. Or quit calling it humane!

  13. BTW, there are more success stories on a local level when these things are done. 1) ban feeding, 2) enforce abandonment laws, and 3) trap and remove. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, and I’m promoting it.

    and another thing. In the past couple years a scientist attempted to put together a rigorous study of the effects of TNR vs. trap and remove. When the TNR colony caregivers found out that the scientist was going to do trap and remove (ELSEWHERE – not in their own colonies) they refused to cooperate (which only required them to provide numbers of cats trapped, neutered, adopted out and # of kittens found and captured). What were they afraid of? Why are the only studies showing a success (on a local level) published by TNR practitioners? Is this a population management technique that can be studied or a religious movement?

      1. The organization was just a loose association of local TNR groups, the scientist does not wish to be identified. No report was issued (as no study was allowed to continue). I’m sorry to be vague, but you know how the cat people are…..Mr. “Slander someone that was accused but not convicted”. (yes…i read your blog).

  14. Esteban says that humans are not responsible for predation. Wow. Really? Perhaps where he lives, people do not hunt wild birds, but where I live, they do. And while window deaths may not count as “predation” they certainly outnumber anything cats can manage, ever. Not to mention poisons, vehicle strikes, environment changes to suit human needs, etc, etc.

    Neutered cats do not reproduce. Their ability to damage local wildlife is limited by their individual lifespans. This is not true for humans.

    TNR is being responsible. It addresses the big picture long term solution (not entirely on its own, mind, it’s a piece of the puzzle, but it’s the feral piece).

    If you really want to protect native wildlife, deal with the human side of things. That’s where the real danger lies.

    Anything else is disingenuous.

  15. Actually that’s NOT what I said. I said “Of course natural predation is just as ‘inhumane’ as non-native predation. But humans are NOT responsible for the predation.”

    And I maintain that humans are NOT responsible for the killing of a cardinal by a Sharp-shinned Hawk. THAT is what I was referring too.

    And EVERY conservation group I know of does deal with all aspects of anthropogenic bird mortality. From research on reducing window collisions to studies of windmill caused mortality to habitat loss. Feral cats are simply one cause of anthropogenic mortality and is the subject of this comment section. TNR does not reduce overall population size of cats (because of the feeding associated with the colonies and it’s associated increase in heath and fecundity, un-neutered individuals make up for the output of kittens from the neutered members. If it reduced populations in a reasonable time frame (10 years) I’d be all for it, but it doesn’t and as such it shouldn’t be sold as a solution for municipalities.

  16. Esteban, how do you explain how difficult it is to eradicate cats from islands? Those efforts are generally very well documented—I’ve cited several here and on my blog. Based on your experience, such eradications—on small, uninhabited islands where everything short of drone strikes is allowed—should be trivial matters. Yet we have several case studies to demonstrate just the opposite.

    So, what’s your secret?

    1. Why would you conclude that? These islands are fairly wild with lots of areas inaccessible by human foot traffic. It’s infinitely easier to set traps in one’s yard. My county animal control department will come to your house, set a trap and check it daily. That method, and a prohibition on feeding has resulted in fewer feral cats visible than a nearby county that requires the homeowner to buy the trap, set the trap, and bring the cat to the shelter. That other county allows TNR and outdoor feeding. We aren’t talking rocket science here. We will never eliminate all feral and free-ranging cats, but we can limit population growth by a liberal trapping policy and prohibition on feeding. Just today I found two feeding sites teaming with dry food…..what looked like about 3 lbs in a try. These sites also had empty cans of wet food strewn about on a public street. That’s the face of TNR here, and I want no part of it.

  17. It’s just so crazy to me all this back and forth about in essence claiming cats – feral, stray or pets – are the ONLY outdoor animals that kill other critters, wildlife, etc. I live in Dallas and have witnessed numerous occasions of a bobcat, a coyote, hawks and stray dogs kill other animals (and your precious birds) more often than I care to witness. Two feral cats that I paid to have neutered, and then cared for, were killed by a damn dog and I still love dogs. Just tonight, my indoor cats chased around the house and killed a cockroach. I couldn’t be happier! Sure it breaks my heart when they kill a bird or lizard or gecko, but that’s just the cycle of mother nature. I cry everytime I watch those shows on Discovery or Animal Planet that show the beautiful footage of majestic animals in Africa, or here in Yellowstone or wherever one animal kills another. You don’t see people or organizations going berserk over that! If people would just freaking spay and neuter, no exceptions, we wouldn’t be in this awful position. Then everybody else could complain about the hawks killing the other birds, the rabbits and the squirrels : )

    1. Please read Esteban’s comments. (clearly noting that cats aren’t the only killers out there)

      Lisa, you have control over your pet cats. If they kill a bird or lizard, it is because you chose to let them do it. They don’t need it to survive. The hawk is a wild animal and is free to run its own life – and it does need to hunt to survive.

  18. Ann,

    You say that you “haven’t seen any studies that can really demonstrate that [TNR] even helps.” Have you read the studies I cited previously? Here they are again:

    1. Researchers observed a 36 percent average decrease among six sterilized colonies in the first two years of their study, while three unsterilized colonies experienced an average 47 percent increase over the same period (Stoskopf & Nutter, 2004). A four-year follow-up census revealed that one colony had been reduced from 10 cats to none; at seven years, another colony originally containing 10 cats had been reduced to one cat (Nutter, 2005).

    2. In Italy, 2000–2001 survey of caretakers responsible for 103 cat colonies revealed a 22 percent decrease overall in the number of cats despite a 21 percent rate of “cat immigration.” Although some colonies experienced initial increases, numbers began to decrease significantly after three years of TNR: “colonies neutered 3, 4, 5 or 6 years before the survey showed progressive decreases of 16, 29, 28 and 32 percent, respectively” (Natoli et al., 2006).

    3. Between 1996 and 2002, a TNR program on the campus of the University of Central Florida reduced cat population from 68 to 23, a reduction of more than 66 percent. The project, launched in 1991, involved the adoption of more than 47 percent of the campus’ socialized cats and kittens. The study’s authors emphasize the importance of adoptions and “an ongoing surveillance and maintenance program” for “new arrivals” if TNR programs are to be successful (Levy, Gale, & Gale, 2003).

    Now, all I’m asking is that you point out which specific aspects of these studies you’re disputing—the methods? The analysis? Was the sampling insufficient? Biased? Etc. (You may wish to contact the authors as well, as I often do when I have questions about a particular study.)

    And about your park example, you might be interested in the levels of predation by sterilized colony cats observed in two Florida parks (by researchers strongly opposed to TNR, by the way): Over the course of approximately 300 hours of observation (this, in addition to what the researchers described as “several months identifying, describing, and photographing each of the cats living in the colonies” (Castillo & Clarke, 2003) prior to beginning their research), Castillo and Clarke “saw cats kill a juvenile common yellowthroat and a blue jay. Cats also caught and ate green anoles [lizards], bark anoles, and brown anoles. In addition, we found the carcasses of a gray catbird and a juvenile opossum in the feeding area” (Castillo & Clarke, 2003).

    All of which suggests that “subsidizing” the cats may benefit wildlife. The cats eradicated from islands (mentioned previously) rarely had any such “subsidies,” and survived just fine.

    I agree that “ecological interactions can be very complex,” which is why I spend as much time as I do digging into the various studies on the subject. Many have tried to demonstrate a causal relationship between, say, the presence of cats and “low” species diversity and density—but come up short. For exactly the reason you cite: it’s just not that simple. And correlation—which is typically as close as one is likely to get—is, as you know, not the same thing as causation.

    Peter J. Wolf
    http://www.voxfelina.com

    Literature Cited
    Castillo, D., & Clarke, A. L. (2003). Trap/Neuter/Release Methods Ineffective in Controlling Domestic Cat “Colonies” on Public Lands. Natural Areas Journal, 23, 247–253.
    Levy, J. K., Gale, D. W., & Gale, L. A. (2003). Evaluation of the effect of a long-term trap-neuter-return and adoption program on a free-roaming cat population. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 222(1), 42-46.
    Natoli, E., Maragliano, L., Cariola, G., Faini, A., Bonanni, R., Cafazzo, S., et al. (2006). Management of feral domestic cats in the urban environment of Rome (Italy). Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 77(3-4), 180–185.
    Nutter, F. B. (2005). Evaluation of a Trap-Neuter-Return Management Program for Feral Cat Colonies: Population Dynamics, Home Ranges, and Potentially Zoonotic Diseases. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.
    Stoskopf, M. K., & Nutter, F. B. (2004). Analyzing approaches to feral cat management—one size does not fit all. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 225(9), 1361–1364.

  19. Peter,
    How can you begin to measure the success of TNR when you can only cite one study that addresses TNR’s effect on area population levels (and you described its shortcomings at length)?

    Also:
    Do the studies you cite address why “Return” is actually necessary? The UCF study seems to recommend “Removing” as many cats as possible.

    I’ve got other comments, but perhaps we should start here.

    1. Ann, I gather you’re not going to answer my question about why you think trap-and-kill is effective—when this has been the status quo for years. When the island eradications demonstrate quite dramatically just how brutal, time-consuming, and costly such an approach is.

      I find this puzzling in light of your doubts about TNR’s effectiveness. What are you measuring against? If your concern is population-level reductions, you need to understand just how low the bar has been set by trap-and-kill!

      You might be interested in a 2003 article by Merritt Clifton, editor for “Animal People,” (http://www.animalpeoplenews.org/03/6/wherecatsBelong6.03.html) in which he discusses both the impact of adoptions and feral cat population trends (using some very interesting data sources).

      “After a decade of intensive TNR in much of the country,” argues Clifton, “40 million is now very close to being the upper-end plausible estimate of all free-roaming cats in the U.S., including both pets and ferals, and then only at the height of “kitten season,” when about half of the total feral cat population are still too young to hunt, with approximately a 50 percent chance of living long enough to ever hunt successfully.

      Based on surveys conducted by Animal People, Clifton suggests, “the feral cat population had probably peaked in 1993 or 1994 before beginning a downward trend,” ultimately concluding: “the winter feral cat population may now [as of 2003] be as low as 13 million and the summer peak is probably no more than 24 million.”

      Clifton’s data indicate that “the pet cat population was maintaining itself and growing only through taming and adoption of ferals,” suggesting that an awful lot of cats (mostly kittens) are indeed being removed. But, don’t forget: we’re still killing millions of adoptable cats in shelters each year—supply exceeds demand, as it were.

      And here we’re speaking only of the adoptable cats, of course. Many colony cats will never be socialized sufficiently to be adopted (which is not to say that they can’t—a different issue altogether).

      Regarding the Foley et al. study, I think you misunderstand. All of the “shortcomings” I described actually suggest that TNR is effective at stabilizing/reducing the population of stray/abandoned/feral cats. The reason the results seem to suggest otherwise is that the “TNR success stories” weren’t brought back to the clinic to be counted as such. One sterilization surgery is, it seems, adequate.

  20. Peter,

    I think Esteban already did an excellent job of describing realistic goals and other effective methods of cat control. Trap and remove is not the only one. Changing human behavior is important too.

    However, this was the question that your previous comment asked:

    “Now, all I’m asking is that you point out which specific aspects of these studies you’re disputing—the methods? The analysis? Was the sampling insufficient? Biased? Etc.”

    I think you agreed that Foley, et al. left out too many cats as well. I realize what you were trying to point out, but, obviously their mark-recapture method was flawed. However, you can’t just insert those “TNR success stories because you ‘know’ they are out there when the study failed to measure them. So, you can’t really say that this study “suggests” TNR is effective. Seems like a more thorough follow-up is in order.

    Two of the biggest differences between Trap and Remove and TNR are Returning/removing and feeding/not feeding.

    Why is returning the cats necessary? Two of the studies noted how important immigration was. TNR didn’t stop it. Rather, regular monitoring and management was always needed to account for it. The studies didn’t compare return/remove. The UCF study seems to recommend “Removing” as many cats as possible – and most of the population reduction was due to that.

    Why is feeding the cats necessary? Feeding can concentrate the cats, attract more cats and other animals, doesn’t stop hunting, and can encourage abandonment. The studies didn’t compare subsidized/unsubsidized.
    Comments?

    Also interesting: the Animal People article you mentioned “projected that TNR might be suitable in only 12% of the locations where feral cats are found”. And it did not recommend its use in areas where wildlife was a priority (like FWS managed lands).

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