Editor’s Note: As some Charleston City Council members are calling for measures to reduce cat overpopulation in city neighborhoods, animal rescue advocate and Dog Bless co-founder Chelsea Staley has penned a guest blog for Cap West’s Pet City on the subject.
By Chelsea Staley
If you’re within the circulation territory of the Daily Mail, odds are there are dozens of stray cats roaming your neighborhood. The same is true across the country, as tens of millions of strays are estimated to be roaming freely.
Such cats can become a nuisance (dare I say a public health risk?), and municipalities nationwide are cracking down on their very existence. Programs to eliminate “community cats” vary in approach from traditional (dare I say inhumane?) trap-and-kill methods, to cat limit ordinances, to the more progressive TNR approach.
TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, Return, and the process is exactly that. (1) Trap community cats; (2) Have cats spayed/neutered and vaccinated; and (3) return cats to their habitat.
Though TNR does not immediately reduce the number of community cats roaming neighborhoods, it does provide many desirable benefits instantly.
First, TNR stabilizes community cat colonies and is estimated to reduce the colony population by 66 percent over ten years (www.alleycat.org).
TNR also improves cats’ (and citizens’) lives.
It reduces the stress of mating and pregnancy in community cats, eliminating mating behaviors like roaming, spraying, fighting, and yowling. Public health risks are eliminated because cats are vaccinated against rabies.
Last, TNR eliminates wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. In a study commissioned by Best Friends Animal Society, TNR was estimated to reduce animal control costs associated with community cats by more than half (www.bestfriends.org).
Some communities are taking TNR one step further, providing housing for cats. By providing designated community cat housing and feeding colonies consistently at those locations, municipalities have effectively relocated their cats from populated neighborhoods to more desirable locations.
A fun way to get citizens involved is to commission local artists to design community cat housing with aesthetic appeal, like this retro style:
In sum, TNR is the only proven solution to humanely stabilize and reduce cat colonies, improve cats’ (and citizens’) lives, and save taxpayer dollars. Jazzed up colony housing is just an added bonus (and perhaps a FestivALL contest?).
West Virginia communities practicing TNR: Parkersburg, Braxton County (4 municipalities)
Learn more here:
There are plenty of ways to pay for TNR programs. Pet supply retailer PetSmart offers a $100,000 grant, for example: