Trap Neuter Return: Feral Cat Pseudoscience?

Several Weeks ago CASS at CFI Canada received an email from a resident of Stratford, Ontario who was asking for our help in researching and commenting on a new conservation plan that has been sweeping through the US and Canada.  “Trap-Neuter-Return” or TNR has recently been adopted by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) to deal with feral cats and they are planning to promote it in municipalities around Ontario, including Stratford.  Our Stratford resident was distressed at this prospect and called it pseudoscience.

I remember visiting Rome and coming across a local legend of a lady who was feeding the population of feral cats around the Coliseum with pasta and tuna – and the scrawniest, saddest looking cats were everywhere around the structure.  In the Junction section of the west end of Toronto, there is a large feral cat population that runs alongside the rail corridor.  Peter Marra, a wildlife professional and author of this article in the Washington Post estimates that there are any where from 80 to 120 million free-roaming cats in the US alone and that cats constitute the largest number of predators on the planet.  The Toronto Humane Society estimates that between 20 000 and 100 000 cats live on the streets of Toronto. They have been introduced into most parts of the world, usually dumped by owners who are too lazy to find them a home, let alone get them neutered, or allowed to run free outside of their home and never to return.  Trapping and euthanasia is the standard practice to deal with feral populations, but TNR is being adopted in many jurisdictions. TNR is supposed to have originated in Denmark and is now practiced in most US states at various levels, both by private individuals and by local SPCA’s.

TNR is a process of trapping cats from feral populations, testing and vaccinating for various diseases, based on the jurisdiction, neutering, and then returning them to the location where they were captured. It is offered as an alternative to euthanasia and it is the goal of various organizations like Alley Cat Allies and Stray Cat Alliance to achieve a “no-kill” state for humane societies and SPC’s all over the US.  The scientific claims made by TNR proponents include:

  • The permanent removal of cats for euthanasia creates a “vacuum effect” where cats from neighboring populations will move in and replace those cats removed. TNR replaces the cat population with neutered individuals who will defend their territory and not reproduce.
  • It follows that the population will decline “naturally” through attrition and the natural death of the neutered felines
  • Predation by the cats on local bird, mammal, lizard and insect populations can be kept in check by making sure the cats are fed and have shelter and cats can be a natural part of this urban ecosystem

Chris Hassell is a conservation ecologist, a CASS advisor, and a member of CFI Ottawa.  Hassell reviewed the limited evidence for the practice of TNR and reported on his findings to our group in April. There is a good review of the evidence by Longcore et al that does a comprehensive job at addressing the claims made by proponents of the practice, and Hassell summarized the evidence as follows:

  • Successful TNR studies tend to focus on animal welfare as a success, rather than the decline in populations of feral cats. This is not what conservation biologists or policy makers are looking for.
  • High rates of neutering (beyond those that have ever actually been achieved) are necessary to cause a decline in populations. A number of long term studies on TNR have found that it isn’t worth the effort.
  • Success attributed to TNR is partially due to the removal of animals through adoption.
  • Some studies have involved the researchers’ participation, which increases the chances of success, compared to volunteer participation.
  • Few studies have actually demonstrated the removal of a population by TNR, and then only after much effort.
  • There is no evidence that the “vacuum effect does not follow the death of neutered cats.
  • TNR focuses on maintaining colonies of feral cats on the basis that they are not harmful to the local environment. This is completely ridiculous. The article contains a number of citations of studies demonstrating
    • extinctions caused by cats
    • threats to wildlife in yards and gardens which provide much-needed habitats in otherwise inhospitable urban environments
    • far higher densities (and therefore predation pressure) of feral cats than natural, native species resulting either from TNR colonies or feeding of domestic animals
    • cats do not necessarily hunt because they are hungry so satiating them will not help
    • cats play an important (negative) role in fluctuating bird populations (especially ground-foraging and rare species)
    • cats cause tens of millions of bird, mammal and reptile deaths in the UK, and a similar number in Wisconsin
    • feral cats carry diseases (for which they also act as reservoir hosts) which they transmit to local cat populations, local wildlife and humans (these diseases are not adequately treated in TNR schemes)

The science behind TNR does stand on shaky ground, but if we were to limit the debate to the science it seems like there would be small areas of equivocation.  When run by professionals and paired with aggressive adoption, TNR may be viable.  At the very least it deserves to wend its way through the process of scientific inquiry to see if it can be tweaked to work and,  if not, abandoned for more successful measures.  I am not convinced that it would, given the Longcore et al review, but the scientific debate itself does not seem pseudoscientific.

The Toronto Humane Society, on its page on TNR, which it supports, suggests that you check out a facts page from the American Veterinary Medical Association which lists 4 studies, only one of which concludes that TNR works, and only after 47% of cats from a 68 cat population had been removed for adoption and not returned.  Another concludes that in order to work you must have neuter rates of 71-94%; a very ambitious number.  The third article, from Anderson et al, concludes that euthanasia is a better approach to management.  This is certainly equivocal science and if this is the information that the THS is expecting will convince us to adopt TNR, they are not looking at the facts and may be blinded by their ideology in this respect.

What is at the crux of the matter, however, is that those proponents of TNR are not conservation or wildlife professionals; they are members of the public or veterinarians that are approaching the management of feral populations using an ethical standard, not a scientific one.  The Wildlife Society, Canadian section, has this to say about feral cat populations:

“Feral and free-ranging domestic cats are exotic species to North America. A growing body of literature strongly suggests that domestic cats are significant predators on native wildlife and serve as reservoirs for several diseases that can have significant effects on the health of humans, wildlife, and domestic animals. TWS supports the humane elimination of feral cat colonies, passage of local and state ordinances to prohibit the feeding of feral cats, and educational programs that inform the public on feral cats, the importance of keeping pet cats indoors, and encourage owners to neuter or spay their cats.”

Iain Martel, a philosopher of science and a co-chair of CASS pointed out the apparent gap in environmental ethics when it comes to dealing with feral populations:

“Animal welfare activists and conservation biologists simply have different views of what counts as success. At the extremes, one side only values the lives of cute cuddly critters, giving no value to vermin, whereas the other side only values the lives of native species, viewing anything else as an alien invader to be destroyed. On this level, science is helpless to adjudicate the dispute – only a fully worked-out environmental ethic can do so.”

This is an important point: if your purpose is to protect populations of cats, a species that has been bred by humans to be attractive, affectionate and companionable, (see Deirdre Barrett’s description of supernormal stimuli of our nurturing instincts) then TNR may indeed be the best way to manage this population in a way that does not result in the destruction of the cats by humans through euthanasia.  The Toronto Humane Society’s goals seem centred around reducing the euthanasia rate of cats in Toronto, not controlling the number of feral cats on the streets.  Conservation biologists are focused on the negative impacts that feral populations of domestic animals have on the ecosystem.  It is disingenuous for groups like the OSPCA or THS to present their plans as a scientific alternative when they have not provided the evidence to support their assertions.

Pseudoscience as described by the Skeptics Dictionary is, among other things, a “set of ideas based on theories put forth as scientific when they are not scientific.”  Once again, we have a solution starting from an ideology:  “all cats deserve to live and we must act to protect them.” Proponents then cherry pick data that supports their ideology and ignore the data that does not.  They then make unsupportable assertions like “TNR is the only strategy for controlling feral populations that has been proven to work” in order to generate support for the idea and with the hope that policy makers will not check the facts.  As well, it is not clear that cats living feral live happy lives – they will eventually die, and not often of old age.  The question of protecting their life at all costs when euthanizing them may be the actual ethical and humane thing to do, if they can’t be adopted out, deserves to be explored by ethicists without an ideological clamor.

If not pseudo-science it is certainly disingenuous of TNR supporters to call their idea supported by the science: currently, it is not.  It is important when holding public debates on the issue to define what a success means: preventing the killing of feral cats or controlling populations to protect the ecology.   TNR may certainly do the former, but it remains to be seen if it will do the latter, and the evidence is not looking good.

However, it is obvious that the best strategy would be to prevent the cats from entering the population in the first place, and it is best to quote Bob Barker on this one: “Remember to have your pet spayed or neutered!”

 

Pictures from Creative Commons, in order from top left to bottom: LTshears, Yanjig Lu, Lisa Wilson

47 Responses to “Trap Neuter Return: Feral Cat Pseudoscience?”

  1. TMJ says:

    There is an incorrect assumption in this article. Feral cats are not candidates for adoption. They have not had the close human contact at an early age that makes them suitable for lives in human homes. They are truly wild cats.

    Stray cats, those that were raised by humans and then dumped or lost, can be re-introduced into human homes.

    TNR is a humane way to limit the growth of feral cat colonies without resorting to wholesale slaughter of these animals.

  2. Ethan Clow says:

    Last year we had a real problem with feral cats in my neighbourhood. They were causing all sorts of trouble, getting in to garbage, killing birds and mice and leaving the carcass behind. Occasionally one of them would get hit by a car or something. I think cities need to adopt a strong legislation when it comes to controlling feral pet populations. It sounds like TNR doesn’t address any of the key problems except for the euthanasia issue.

  3. @TMJ Unfortunately, there was no distinction given in the studies about TNR about adoption in feral vs. stray cats. The kittens of feral cats can be adopted out before a certain age but you are right, they are difficult to socialise. The problem is, how do you tell the difference?

    More importantly, the one study that had great success only did so with a nearly 50% adoption rate, so feral cat populations that have only a few strays will be difficult to adopt out, making it more difficult, it follows, to implement TNR to reduce the population.

    Unless, of course, as I said in the article, your end goal is only to lower the euthanasia rate. Then of course TNR may work. Unfortunately, the evidence that TNR limits the growth of feral cat colonies is very thin and your assertion that it does is not based on the current evidence, but wishful thinking.

    I would love for TNR to work. I would love it more if people were responsible and neutered or spayed their cats and did not allow them to roam or set them free. Alas, I am disappointed on both counts and fear that trapping and euthanising these cats is a consequence of our negligence and the only way to control the population.

  4. Renshia says:

    Maybe we could turn them into a food source. Say, we turn them into dog food. Much more practical. What dog wouldn’t like canned kitty?

  5. imminently says:

    It would seem this last comment was intended to provoke and to be honest, my first thought was, “What an ASSHOLE.” The truth is that no animal deserves the treatment so many receive at our hands and if folks would just do the responsible thing by having their pets spayed or neutered, there would be little need for TNR and the epidemic of euthanasia would cease. I wonder how strong proponents of euthanasia as the most effective solution would feel if we treated people the same way. Does the name Adolf Hitler ring a bell?

  6. Mike says:

    I don’t get why the word ‘euthanasia’ is even being used in this context. I believe ‘slaughter’ is the correct term. My understanding is that euthanasia applies when a cat is being put down to end its suffering.

    • Theo Bromine says:

      I do not know what the technical definition of “slaughter” is; however, “euthanasia” simply means “good death” – ie the cats are killed humanely, with minimal pain and suffering as part of their death (regardless of their state of health at the time). Of course, for companion animals, most cases of euthanasia are performed to end the animal’s existing suffering. It is worth remembering that the feral cats who have gone through TNR are very unlikely to die at a ripe old age while sleeping in a patch of sun. More likely they will be hit by a car, be killed and eaten by a predator, or die of infection or disease, none of which are particularly pleasant or comfortable ways to die.

      • Mike says:

        No, euthanasia doesn’t simply mean ‘good death’. Where a word originates from and what a word means are not the same thing. Call a spade a spade.

        Here’s the wiki definition since you appear confused:

        “Animal euthanasia (from the Greek meaning “good death”) is the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.[1] Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain and distress. Euthanasia is distinct from animal slaughter and pest control, which are performed for purposes other than an act of mercy, although in some cases the killing procedure is the same.”

      • Theo Bromine says:

        OK, I will concede that I had misused the term “euthanasia”. But “slaughter” does not specify how the killing is performed, so I would like to specify that the killing I am talking about is humanely implemented.

        So, if the goal is to stop the increase in population of feral cats, we need to keep them from breeding, either by killing them or by neutering them. The question is: Is it better to kill them humanely, or to neuter and return them so they can die naturally, invisibly, (and often painfully), from disease, predation, exposure, etc.

      • Mike says:

        Theo, indeed that is the question. And it is not just you who uses the term euthanasia in this context. It is widespread. While one may argue that trap & kill is good for the ecosystem as a whole, using the term euthanasia falsely implies that these creatures are being killed as an act of mercy, when that is not the case, regardless of how these animals may end up dying in the wild.

  7. Gerda Lobo says:

    It escapes my understanding why ..”proponents of TNR are not conservation or wildlife professionals; they are members of the public or veterinarians that are approaching the management of feral populations using an ethical standard, not a scientific one…” should matter at all when managing a feral colony in one’s backyard or a Walmart parking lot, for instance, or the “streets of Toronto.” This article makes it sound as if feral colonies only exist in pristine wilderness areas, or otherwise that any area that harbors animal life, and includes feral cats, becomes a conservation or wildlife domain to be managed by the appropriate experts. Can you please provide a breakdown of the numbers you are giving, and let us know the geographic spread of these feral cats, and how colonies overlap with areas that legitimately can be called natural habitats, unspoilt by human habitation and urban construction? I appreciate people like Ethan Clow who point out the main issue with feral cats in his community was the nuisance factor.

    And for a good dose of skepticism regarding the alarms about invasion and predation, please be true to your name and have a look at David I. Theodoropoulos’ book “Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience.”

  8. Thank you, Michael, for initiating a discussion about this important topic. I’d like to take issue with several of your claims, though—beginning with the assertion that TNR proponents are the ones responsible for the pseudoscience at the heart of the “cat debate.” Look a little closer and you might be surprised at how flimsy the claims made by TNR opponents really are.

    I know I was—and also frustrated enough to launch a blog (voxfelina[dot]com) last year devoted to untangling some of these claims. (Forgive me if this seems grossly self-promotional, but by including multiple links here, I can keep my comments relatively brief.)

    Regarding the alleged impact of feral cats on wildlife, aggregate figures such as those routinely used by the American Bird Conservancy, The Wildlife Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others, can typically be traced to small—often flawed—studies, the results of which are subsequently extrapolated from one habitat to another, conflating island populations (where the presence of cats can have dire consequences) and those on continents, combining common and rare bird species, healthy and unhealthy, and so forth.

    Actually, Chris Hassell does something similar (knowingly or not) when he refers to the “extinctions caused by cats” in Travis Longcore’s review article: those extinctions are all on islands.

    Longcore was clear on that point, but is very “selective” elsewhere—especially when it comes to claims about wildlife impacts. Cole Hawkins’ dissertation, for example, misrepresents correlation as causation (voxfelina[dot]com/2010/06/the-work-speaks-part-5-jumping-to-conclusions/). And, contrary to what Longcore suggests, Christopher Lepczyk’s dissertation does not demonstrate that “cats can play an important role in fluctuations of bird populations” (voxfelina[dot]com/2010/08/red-herrings-white-lies-and-blue-birds/).

    The “Wisconsin Study” Longcore refers to was discredited long ago (voxfelina[dot]com/2010/05/a-critical-assessment-of-critical-assessment-part-2/). (Readers interested in a more comprehensive review of Longcore’s paper are welcome to download my response: voxfelina[dot]com/voxfelina/Vox_Felina_Reassessment_v2.pdf)

    But Longcore is hardly the only scientist to play this game. In his Washington Post op-ed piece, the Smithsonian’s Peter Marra writes: “in some areas, less than 15 percent of these [catbird] fledglings survived, largely because of cat predation.” Pretty damning evidence, right? Not so fast (voxfelina[dot]com/2011/03/catbirds-cats-and-scapegoats/)…

    As his paper (published in the Journal of Ornithology) makes clear, the researchers witnessed just six catbird deaths due to predation by cats. Six of 42 total mortalities. They then attributed threee more to cats on the basis of decapitated remains because, as they explain, “we are unaware of any other native or non-native predator that regularly decapitates birds while leaving the body uneaten.”

    In fact, it’s rather widely known that such predatory behavior is not at all uncommon with owls, grackles, jays, magpies, and even raccoons.

    Even if Marra and his colleagues are correct about the three additional kills, the title of “primary predators of young catbirds” goes not to the cats, but to the “unknown predators” (with 14 kills). Seven kills were attributed to rats or chipmunks.

    But they go further, declaring two of the study areas to be dispersal sinks—habitats in which reproduction is unable to keep pace with losses, and which are therefore relies upon recruitment from nearby areas. This, largely on the basis of 19 fledgling mortalities, observed over five months. It’s akin to making conclusions about climate change on the basis of a single season’s weather.

    Would these folks consider a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) study with comparable limitations—population dynamics modeled on the basis of a tiny sample size, very limited spatial and temporal scope, and all the rest—to be valid research? Not a chance.

    Something you wont’ see TNR opponents discuss is the fact that cats generally take vulnerable prey—the young, the old, the weak and the sick. Indeed, studies have demonstrated this quite convincingly (voxfelina[dot]com/2011/02/exceptional-predator/).

    You’re also not likely to see TNR opponents refer to “successful” eradication efforts. Why not? As you can imagine, it’s not pretty.

    On Marion Island (located in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean), for example, it took 19 years to eradicate something like 2,200 cats—using disease (feline distemper), poisoning, intensive hunting and trapping, and dogs. This on an island that’s only 115 square miles in total area, barren, and uninhabited. The cost, I’m sure, was astronomical.

    On the sparsely populated, 34-square-mile Ascension Island, located in the south Atlantic, a 2003 eradication effort cost more that US$1.1M (in today’s money).

    Even setting aside the horrors involved, how would such an approach translate to North America? And who’s going to pay for it? This is the dirty little secret of TNR opponents: THEY SIMPLY HAVE NO PLAN.

    You seem to dismiss solutions “starting from an ideology,” but fail to acknowledge that attempts to preserve wildlife and the environment are no different. Indeed, I have to think that most successful solutions have ideological origins.

    I don’t think anybody’s suggesting that TNR is an ideal answer, but in most cases, it’s the best option we’ve got.

    Peter J. Wolf
    voxfelina[dot]com

    • gmcevoy says:

      “On Marion Island (located in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean), for example, it took 19 years to eradicate something like 2,200 cats—using disease (feline distemper), poisoning, intensive hunting and trapping, and dogs. This on an island that’s only 115 square miles in total area, barren, and uninhabited. The cost, I’m sure, was astronomical.”

      The 5 cats were introduced in 1949 and there were ferals just two years later. Warned aboot this in 1952, South Africa acted quickly and decided to do something in 1975.

      The cat eradication began in 1977 and was done by 1991. So, it’s more like 14 years, although the article these dates come from says 32 years which doesn’t add up…

      Marion’s slow recovery from feral felines

      The article also mentions Marion and her sister Prince Edward Island in very different terms from “barren, and uninhabited”, at least in ’49 when they were near pristine:

      “She rose, a jade jewel, out of the sea. Her lush green coat was fringed with the black lace of the cliffs and her heights draped with scintillating snow.”

      Today:

      “You think to yourself ‘Hang on, it looks more like a dirty piece of amber’…”

      and

      “Scientists say the contrast is now striking between Marion and its neighbour, Prince Edward Island, 19km to the north, which has never been invaded by mammals and which still hosts huge numbers of breeding petrels whose waste products promote its tussock grass species.”

      Why?

      “The major reason for the dramatic reduction of the island’s bright green hue, at least in some areas, was feral cats, whose numbers exploded exponentially after being introduced to this near pristine environment. Because they killed literally millions of seabirds over decades, they were directly responsible for reducing the flow of nutrients, like nitrogen, via the birds’ guano into the ecosystem.

      Ya I know, it’s devastating. I was just curious as to what extent and it seems quite extensive.

      From 4 cats in ’49 (one sterile apparently as his traits weren’t apparent even by the end) to aboot 3400 by ’77 taking an estimated 400,000+ birds a year or about 125 each, one every 3 days. That’s a lot of sick, injured, elderly birds. Enough that 2 or three of the species are gone and the verdant twin islands are now opposites.

      Costs to clean up the cats involved 82 people. To TNR would have added veterinary medicine and increased the already astronomical costs by another galaxy or so and then the cats would have been back taking birds every few days for many more years.

      Toronto has anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 feral cats and no matter how you slice it, culling will be cheaper than capture and veterinary care.

      Islands aren’t urban, but cats are hunters and they enjoy it if not prefer it. They aren’t wildlife anymore either, they are stray domestics – the added dimension vs Marion Island which makes culling more difficult here, but still cheaper. Cull or neuter, capture will be required and then it’s surgery vs not surgery…

      If humans were wrong to wipe out the natural cats, how is the solution to introduce a foreign species? Wouldn’t it be better to reintroduce the originals, like wolves are being done in some areas?

      Who will pay? The middle and lower class tax payer and those who donate, like me to the THS, as they do today and as they would for neutering.

      It’s a shame the cats pay the ultimate price for human sloth, but if more people acted like my buddy with his two cats – fixed and indoors, it wouldn’t be much of an issue.

      Instead we have cats infesting the THS – http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=180893

      “inspectors found rampant disease, overcrowding, feces-caked animals and a mummified cat inside the allegedly understaffed facility.”

      “When I arrived here, it was in a shocking state. There were over 1,000 cats in a building that had capacity for 350, and animals that had been in small cages for two or three years.”

      • Staceyjw says:

        its much better to kill the cats than leave them in tiny cages for years. That’s just inhumane.

      • BrainLogic says:

        If you send spayed/neutered cats back out, won’t they help decrease population growth? Not only are they not “making babies”, the cats which are yet fertile can’t make babies, either, when they mate with spayed/neutered cats.
        This follows on the vaccination premise that if enough humans are vaccinated against, say, chicken pox, then those too sick to be vaccinated are secondarily protected, as they are unlikely to be exposed.

  9. Michelle says:

    What is being ignored is that the biggest threat to birds and wildlife is HUMANS, not cats! Deforestation due to development causes major loss of habitat constantly. No bird or wildlife advocates ever seem to complain when you see a forest destroyed in a day, taking with it homes, nests, eggs and nestlings. I suppose as long as someone is making money, thousands of birds and wild creatures can be wiped out they don’t care, but heaven forbid a cat should catch one! Another huge overlooked factor in the decline of birds is the chemicals average homeowners use on their lawns, some in spray jugs, some in huge trucks called to come keep their lawn green. The average suburbanite’s quest for a green lawn is killing birds by poisoning their main food supply (bugs, worms and seeds!)Proof that it’s these chemicals killing the birds and not cats is that bees and fireflies are also in decline, and cats do not hunt them. Blaming cats for all the harm to the enviornment is an absolute joke, a drop in the bucket compared to what humans cause! No one is going to stop deweeding or debugging their yard, garden or farm, oh that’s right, those chemical companies make money too, so again I guess it’s excused if someone is making a profit, blame it all on the cats! Cats usually aren’t able to catch birds anyway, and ferals are most often seen around dumpsters, meaning they prefer scavenging for human handouts over hunting birds. No one mentions that humans and dogs and larger birds also kill birds, and even the USDA kills them by the hundreds with poison, such as the ‘falling from the sky’ incidents of a few months ago, some proven to have been ‘controlled kills’ by the gov’t agency! It would have taken thousands of cats ages to kill what humans did in one day. So why is the cat always the one taking the rap? Another point constantly ignored is that the native/non native argument also doesn’t hold up due to hypocrisy. This country originally had wild cat species, puma, lynx, bobcat, and panthers, but they were hunted to or near extinction by humans. So if the North American ecosystem was originally built to handle those larger cats, why not the small ones? The hypocrisy in all this continues as we note that out west, ‘native’ wolves are being wiped out in favor of ‘non native’ ranchers and livestock- dare I say it again, MONEY is the true issue, not really who was here first? It’s all a lot of twisted garbage invented and perpetuated by cat haters, but when you look at reality, none of it holds up. Get real and leave the cats alone! They aren’t hurting near as much as humans.

  10. gmcevoy says:

    “Cats usually aren’t able to catch birds anyway, and ferals are most often seen around dumpsters, meaning they prefer scavenging for human handouts over hunting birds.”

    Reminds me when at a friends place we were relaxing in the backyard and my good lady wife and I noticed their sweet, cute kitty, Tippy, stalking a sparrow that had alighted in the chain link fence. Chirping happily as the late afternoon sun dappled its drab plumage, life was good.

    The bird had no idea what danger lurked under the bush aboot 25 ft away, as purr factory Tippy crawled nearer on her belly. Just like the big cats on Wild Kingdom.

    We mentioned the little drama unfolding to the owner.

    No sooner had, “Tippy’s a good kitty, she doesn’t hunt.” left her lips and WHACK, lunchtime for the Tipster. Tippy proudly looked right at her owner, who freaked and leaped from her chair after the obviously skilled hunter. Tippy took her prize and ran through the back hedge.

    Tippy was sleek and muscular and cuddly. Rusty, our neighbour’s fat cat – literally, is large and temperamental. He’s a well-fed 15. I’ve seen him take many birds over the years to play with and eat. A bluejay just last year that he toyed with for over an hour before the coup de gras.

    He used to gift us from time to time, but he’s none too happy since we got a dog. The ferals my kind-hearted neighbour feeds (and raccoons and skunks…) by leaving food out for “the poor wee things” aren’t either.

    Rusty & friends are upset ’cause they canna use our yard as a game reserve.

    Or a toilet.

    Visitors would ask if we had a cat ’cause “your porch smells like cat piss”. The alley twixt my home and the next from the house of cats was their solid matter litter-box…

    All the harmful things you mention humans have done to NAmerica includes introducing the domestic feline and canine and letting them run loose precisely because they aren’t lynx, bobcat, coyote or fox…

    The neighbour often forgets to close her shed and so the ferals have turned it into a first-come-first-served nursery. The year before the canine invasion, she mentioned there were four kittens in the shed, but now only two.

    A day or two later, my wife saw a raptor of some type sitting on the fence staring into her yard…

    • BrainLogic says:

      You point out rather nicely how cats are prey to other predators, especially their young even to bird predators. Perhaps, if there were no cats, those predators targeting cats would replaced cats in targeting other wildlife. Maybe, in the final balance, cats don’t really matter.

  11. Miguel says:

    The comments here demonstrate the difficulty having reasonable disucssion about the Trap-Neuter-Return as an effective means of managing unowned, free-roaming cat populations.
    Arguments about semantics do not serve to clarify communication among interested parties. The term “feral” has meanings in different disciplines and in common usage. “Euthanasia” also could be defined in different ways. A single dictionary definition obviously will not suffice to describe what is intended. A vet may object to calling any lethal measure used in cases other than untreatable disease or suffering “euthanasia”. Others may use the term to describe a lethal control which is designed to cause the least amount of suffering. In anycase, using emotionally loaded terms such as “slaughter” does not describe all alternatives to TNR as presented by its proponants. Indeed, opponents of the method (many of whom cannot reasonably be considered “cat-haters) do not universally advocate lethal controls, though some do. Also, setting up a dichotomy that TNR is the sole means of of populaton management and asserting that all other means are inneffective or inhumane is clearly a device to further cloud any reasonable debate, There are not two options. There are many strategies than can be combined. Pointing out that there are greater threats to wildlife (not just birds are a concern) and healthy ecosystems does not diminish the evident effect that cat predation appears to have on wildlife any more than pointing out that we shouldn’t be concerned about breast cancer as a threat to women’s health beacause more women die of heart disease. Significant factors cannot be dismissed by rank. Factors in population decline are also not clear. Habitat loss, which is widely implicated in the reduction of migratory bird populations may outrank feline predation in a simplified lost of factors. Habitat loss may describe an increase in areas which have become a hostile matrix to migratory species which may include areas containing supplemented populations of predators. Also, habitat need not be “pristine” to be hospitible. The predatory abilities of cats regarding birds is also often called into question. Doubt in exact numbers of predatory birds takes doesn’t discount the body of evidence. We have no exact data about how many cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking but the lack of absolutely definite numbers does not discount the evidence that smoking is a significant cause. Examining all the evidence of cat predation in scientific literature clearly suggests that birds are preyed upon by cats and that the predationb is significant. Then there is the assertion that runs in another direction; that populations of cats control rodents (which are often depicted as “vermin”. Nobody seems to deny the fact that free-roaming cats are comprised primarily of rodents. Journal articles and their supporting data suggest that these rodents and other small mammals are not necessarily species considered to be pests (rats and house mice). In fact there is a possibility that cats may assert predatory pressure that selcts for larger rats. As for “blaming” cats for expressing their predatory natures, there have been calls to lethally control coyotes which predate cats in TNR populations which might suggest that this line of reasoning pefers cats to other species. The argument that humans are primarily responsible for unowned cat populations and the decline of healthy ecosystems is also moot. Some consider free roaming cats as agents of detrimental human activity. Also seeking a culprit to blamedoes not serve to solve any of the problems related to thius issue.
    Finding flaws published studies also does not serve to support the claims made by propnents of TNR. Seek flaws and ytou will find them. An imperfection in the design of a study does not necessarily mean that the data collected should be summarily discounted. Perhaps focusing on examing the evidence that TNR is effective and humane or whatever claim might be made rather than discounting evidence you dislike might be a better use of time.
    Describing the lack of a single, cohesive plan among people who oppose TNR as a “dirty secret” might not be accurate. Nor is it a great revelation considering that the issue is so complex, that data in so many areas is lacking and that objections to TNR arise for different reasons. The attempt to portray TNR as the optimal solution because suggested solutions from other voices aren’t unified might be a bit disingenuous. There are many suggestions beyond eradication and extermination strategies if you are willing to look for them.
    While invasion and change in ecosystems occur without human facilitation and it is clear that controlling indroduced species may not be wise or practical in many cases, the suggestion by many biologists to consider species in black-and-white terms is not a call to abandon all distisnctions and descriptions. Nor is it a suggestion that we take no action to mitigate the potential problems caused by human activity — like maintaining artificially high poulations of mesopredators which have not coevolved with many of thier neighboring species.

    • “Finding flaws published studies also does not serve to support the claims made by propnents of TNR. Seek flaws and ytou will find them. An imperfection in the design of a study does not necessarily mean that the data collected should be summarily discounted. Perhaps focusing on examing the evidence that TNR is effective and humane or whatever claim might be made rather than discounting evidence you dislike might be a better use of time.”

      Unfortunately, Miguel, this is the only good, reproducible, way we have of finding the truth about a phenomenon. This is also how science works: one person produces data to support a hypothesis, and the community of peers tries to pick apart the experiment. Only those experiments that make it through this process are accepted into the cannon of scientific knowledge and all are subject to future revision.

      A non-critical love-in of all evidence, regardless of its validity, is what occurs in many of the pseudo-scientific journals (think of the lack of debate between homeopaths as to the mechanism of their craft) and does not advance the field, it only serves to promote further ignorance and misunderstanding of the world.

      Otherwise, great points, everyone!

  12. Miguel says:

    True Mike. I was not very eloquent in getting my point across, though. I used the word flaw pretty loosely. What I meant was that when a study is less than ideal it doen’t necesasrily follow that it is not of value. The estimate of predation extrapolted from Stanly Temple’s work are not perfect and, sadly the extrapolations are used as facts by some bird advocacy groups. At the same time dismissing estimates made by Temple and Lepczyk and other researchers because the numbers they arrive at are based on incomplete or less-than-ideal data might also be hasty. The line of logic seems to be this; it is uncertain how many birds are killed by cats, therefore cats are not a threat to birds.

    I did not intend to suggest that we ought not examine evidence with critical analysis. I meant that uncertainty (not a flaw) is not necessarily cause to discount evidence. I am familiar with the peer-review process and much of the data “debunked” by Stay Pet Advocacy and the like have been published or often cited in articlee published by well-known scientific journals. When I wrote ” Perhaps focusing on examing the evidence that TNR is effective and humane or whatever claim might be made rather than discounting evidence you dislike might be a better use of time” I was clumsy with my words. I have seen many attempts of TNR promoters to discredit any evidence that suggests cats are a threat to wildlife or biodiversity (like Stray Pet Advocacy and Vox Felina), often with arguments to uncertainty. What I don’t often see is an attempt to validate claims which support TNR using a scientific process.
    In my haste I was innacurate with my wording and I hope I have clarified my intention to some degree.

    Thanks

  13. gmcevoy says:

    Yes this – it is uncertain how many birds are killed by cats, therefore cats are no threat to birds – or anything else, like frogs & toads

    It can’t be that upwards of 100,000 cats have no impact beyond the weakest members of any population of prey here, if 3400 drove 2 or 3 species to extinction on Marion

    I don’t expect 30 times as many cats to take 30 times as many birds

    They have other options, but the birds will pay

    Neighbor has 4 kittens under front porch so far- looks like Beige Raccoon Eyes is the Pop

    More to come fer sure

    • BrainLogic says:

      Outside of dead cats on roadways, does anyone here ever see dead ferals lying around? I don’t. Makes me think the feral cats, themselves, are prey to something, and that something would be eating what the cats eat, were it not, or when it’s not, eating cats. If so, what good is removing the cats? Food chains don’t usually come to a dead stop (pardon the pun), just because one link is removed — or do they?

  14. The biggest problem I see is that many of the same people who support TNR over other culling methods are also the kinds of people who will feed stray cats.

    Cats hunt. It’s what they do. They are build for hunting and incredibly efficient at it, and they don’t stop hunting just because they’re full. You can’t stop a cat from hunting just by satiating it. So when these bleeding hearts stop to feed the poor wittle feral kitties, they are keeping the population of predators alive well beyond the ability of the ecosystem to sustain them.

    In nature, ecosystems work via a complex balancing act. We start off with lots of prey, so the predators are successful and well fed and reproduce a whole lot. But then there’s too many predators and they start to over-kill the prey, causing prey populations to decline. With fewer prey, hunting becomes more difficult and many predators die of starvation and nutrition-related diseases. Reproduction slows. With fewer predators around, prey starts reproducing more and their population increases. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    But when humans come on the scene and start feeding the predators, starvation never gets to work its balancing magic and the predator population never decreases. This is what drives prey populations to extinction.

    This is also why I’m not particularly worried about feral cats. Their populations tend to stabilize themselves. It’s outdoor cat owners who are responsible for the bulk of the devastation. Household cats are cared for and can continue to hunt long after prey populations can support the presence of a healthy predator population.

    Personally, I’m one of those bleeding hearts. It takes just about all of my self-control not to feed those adorable fuzzy-wuzzy kitties. But I love birds and rodens and otheer prey populations too, so I do my best. I also don’t allow my cats outside. Any critters that find their way into the house are fair game, though…

  15. Staceyjw says:

    The very best way to slow feral cat populations AND the euthanasia of tons of companion animals is to MANDATE spay and neuter for ALL pets. If only spayed and neutered pets could be sold, and owned, along with very strict enforcement and aggressive fines (those fines would fund the enforcement) for those who break this law, there would be far fewer animals added into the system. it wouldn’t be immediate, but over time would make a huge difference.

    When the animal care system is not totally over burdened with irresponsible pet owners animals, they can then turn their attention to street cats and dogs, whether they decide to euthanize them or TNR is up for debate. If humane societies didn’t have to deal with all the abandoned pets, they could manage these other issues quite effectively.

    We need to remember that the root of this problem is IRRESPONSIBLE HUMANS, and the way we view animals. If we don’t do anything about this, nothing will ever change.

  16. Woodsman says:

    A quite hilarious posting by none-other than the demented leader of Vox Felina itself (found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-to-do-about-feral-cats/2011/05/26/AGEzjMEH_allComments.html?ctab=all_#weighIn ):

    (Comments were closed there so I couldn’t reveal this mentally-deficient basket-case for the fool that s/he really is.)

    >GerdaLobo Writes:

    >But I have a serious question regardless of where anyone stands on TNR. How would one go about euthanising tens of millions of outdoors cats?

    You fool, that’s what shotguns, rifles, and handguns are for. You know, the “SSS Cat Management Program” that’s sweeping the world–”Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-up”. Legal EVERYWHERE, and there’s not one thing that you nor anyone else can do about it.

    >On Marion it took 19 years, and a lot of money to kill a few thousand cats.

    The population of Marion must be really bad shots. I alone already shot up-toward 100 of them all by myself. Just five more this week alone. You’re telling me the population of a whole island is that lacking in motor-skills? Sounds more like someone was raping the tax-coffers for 19 years. What’s a few thousand? 3,000-4,000? It could have been all done in one season with 30-40 people like myself, just for the cost of the ammo. 19 YEARS? Total idiots must live there. Must be, or they never would have let the problem get that bad to begin with.

    > How long will it take to kill tens of millions, and who will pay for it?

    Hmmm … let’s do the math … I alone disposed of about 60 to 100 cats already, in just 2 seasons. It would have been less if the mentally deficient cat-lovers in the area wouldn’t keep adopting more every month (because they believe in the psychotic “vacuum effect” and must replace any that disappear, no doubt). You’d think the local humane-society would ask them the simple question, “What did you do with the last dozen cats we gave you? Make stew?”

    Anyway… let’s take the topmost estimate of feral cats in the USA being about 60,000,000 (some estimate 150,000,000). Now, considering they are rather sparse here, population-density-wise, and difficult to spot when they do roam free in all the woodland underbrush (but they do no less damage), let’s increase the average of cats shot-dead in more densely populated areas to 100 cats per person per season. This means only 600,000 people in the USA, the population of a very small city, will have to get their marksman skill up to do away with ALL of them in just one short season. Now if everyone in the cities would put all those gangs to work, they already have guns, redirecting their energies … we could be rid of ALL OF THEM IN JUST ONE SEASON! What a great summer-employment project for all gang members!! And they’ll get their need to shoot something out of their systems! (But please, outfit them with shovels too, to bury all these disease infested cats so the dead cats can’t do even more damage to all humans and wildlife.)

    Who will pay for it? Every person desperate to get rid of the disaster you created. And of course we’ll all have to sue every member of Alley Cµnt Allies and every other feral-cat group out there for everything they are worth before they are all thrown in prisons for their crimes against humanity and nature. That should buy at least a few more rifles and boxes of bullets. As well as stop them from destroying any more species and environments and spreading deadly diseases to all. A box of 100-rounds of .22′s costs about $8 (less in bulk, I have many thousands of rounds sitting here from a deal too good to pass up). How much does it cost you to deal with just ONE cat? It costs a rifle-owner only $0.08 per cat. Total expense, no further costs incurred after that. $0.08 X 60,000,000 = $4,800,000. Total one-time expense. The price of about 20 average homes. And that’s for the highest estimate of how many need to be shot. Could be as low as 20,000,000 feral cats, 1/3rd the costs. Even better, those close-out deal bulk .22s I bought were only $15 for 5,000 rounds. That’s only 0.3 CENT per cat! 3 dead cats per penny! It doesn’t get more economical than that. With costs like those it would only cost $180,000 to get rid of 60,000,000 cats, less than the price of an average home. Solving ONE WHOLE CONTINENT of cat problems — PERMANENTLY.

    >Who will pay for the truckload of legal cases that will invariably arise when pet cats get mistaken for ferals?

    What legal cases? If a cat is not inside someone’s home it deserves to die. Clear-cut case. Simple. If they don’t care about the well-being of their cats and that of everyone else’s wildlife, nobody else should give one concern about their cats either. Or should everyone send you a bill to rent out their land for the use of YOUR cats? I charge $10,000 an acre per week per cat. Got the cash? The only legal case you need to be wondering about at this point is how you’re going to have to defend yourselves against being charged with the crimes you’ve committed against all of nature and all of humanity.

    >What are the unintended consequences we will need to prepare and budget for?

    What budget? Getting rid of 60 to 100 cats here only cost 60 to 100 X $.08 (the cost of an average round for a .22). $4.80 to $8.00 for the mathematically challenged. Two cups of Starbucks coffee to get rid of 60-100 cats? These cat-solution costs seem highly economical to me, considering all the $BILLIONS in damage that cats cause every year. Not to mention all the costs in testing, spaying, neutering, transporting, and disposal of these useless wastes of flesh. (btw: Just so you know that I’m not hawking Starbucks here … I tried Starbucks’ brew once, spit it out and threw the cup in the trash, horrid stuff. I might as well have just torn up those dollars spent. Why would anyone drink that bilge-water more than one sip in their lives?)

    >E.g. on Marion there now is a massive problem with an out of control mouse population – who eat bird eggs and kill chicks – and the South African government has indicated it does not have the millions of dollars it will cost to try and eradicate the mice.

    I see, so your cats destroyed LESS birds than the mice did? Could you cite some proof in this matter? Got proof of mice eating birds eggs or killing their chicks? This I’ve GOT to see! “News at 11: Grain-eating mice mutate into MEAT EATING MONSTERS WITH JAWS BIG ENOUGH TO SWALLOW WHOLE EGGS!” LOL You must write articles for the National Enquirer no doubt. Mind if I rub your useless nose in a turkey, grouse, quail, or other ground-nesting bird’s nest so you can see the REAL damage that cats do, up-close and personal? You psychotic lying cat-licking cµnt.

    The solution? Breed as many resident native predators as they can, gray-foxes do wonders if they have them, they don’t even eat farmers’ poultry, or use a resident reptile or bird-of-prey that relishes mice as their primary food-source. It’ll all eventually stabilize within a couple seasons. Are you telling me that the officials of this island are as brain-dead as you are? Probably. No, most assuredly.

    >TNR is imperfect in many ways, and not feasible in many locations.

    Not only imperfect, but a perfect waste of anyone’s time and energy. Because you claim that 60,000,000 feral cats can’t be killed on-sight even more easily. Just imagine the mountain of disaster that you have created with the meaningless few cats that you still let destroy all wildlife by setting them free again. You haven’t even scratched the surface, yet you claim to have the solution. All of you are truly delusional. As they say colloquially, “You’ve got one oar out of the water.” “You’re spinning a wheel in the sand,” “You’re not firing on all cylinders.” Not only is shooting them all a quicker, and a more cost-effective way, but it will actually solve ALL problems. Unlike your psychotic beliefs that perpetuate all problems on-ad-infinauseum.

    >To posit something that is impossible to execute as an alternative to a flawed approach is either profoundly ignorant, or profoundly cynical.

    Ah, about time that you looked at your TNR policies objectively.

    >How about devoting resources to all the promising research aimed at developing non-invasive sterilization methods for feral and wild animals,

    And how many years are we going to have to wait for this imaginary solution? Another two decades of failures, like TNR? Oh, and did you actually say that you want to sterilize WILD animals to protect your cats? You do realize don’t you, every time that you use the word “feral” to describe a cat, you yourself are claiming and admitting that a cat is not a natural part of the environment of native animals.

    >instead of pouring those resources into histrionic marketing campaigns predicting the Apocalypse Meow?

    And this is going to solve the death and destruction of native wildlife by your disease-infested, invasive-species, killing-machines, how?

    >Prophecies of the apocalypse have a very bad track record, and their prophets end up being ridiculed.

    But you as a prophet for feral-cats won’t be ridiculed, is that what you are saying?

    Ahhhh…. now we get to the heart of the matter. Not only are you insane, you think you’re a prophet. ROFLMAO!!!!!

  17. Woodsman says:

    Don’t, for even one moment, fall for the song and dance about cat-lovers being animal-lovers, they are anything but that. They don’t have ONE concern about any other animals nor even other humans. Cat-lovers are just like cats, the only thing they care about are themselves.

    Their TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs are a dismal failure too. A smokescreen and time and money waster. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Do a search online for the truth about all TNR failures. Cats are an invasive species. Bred by man for man’s purposes through selective-breeding, a form of genetic engineering. They are NOT an indigenous species anywhere on the planet today and have NO PLACE in nature. They have NO natural predators due to their bold patterns in their coats. ALL wildlife sees this as the universal symbol for toxic or olfactory defense mechanisms and won’t go near them, even if starving. They have no more right to be out in the natural world than some genetically engineered insect that, if released out into nature, would destroy all wildlife. JUST AS CATS DO. A cat destroying wildlife is NO MORE NATURAL than if someone was raising piranha for pets and then dumping a tank of them into your bath with you in it. In fact, this would be even MORE natural, the piranha haven’t been genetically engineered through selective breeding to make them unique from all other fishes.

    These invasive-species that are released into TNR cat-colonies will still be decimating the food-chain for all native wildlife. If you feed a TNR cat-colony they kill even more wildlife. A well-fed cat kills more animals than a starving one. They don’t stop killing other animals just because they’re no longer hungry. The healthier they are the more they kill. It’s what they do, it’s what they are. Lousy little killing machines, nothing more.

    It’s not just the loss of bird populations either. Feral cats and farmers that let theirs roam free have decimated the natural food-chain in my woods. The resident foxes, owls, and other predator animals no longer had a food source. The feral cats destroyed all the smaller animals that all others depended on. The native species all starved to death. That’s what cats do to ALL native animals.

    There has also been research done to prove that cats are now spreading their potentially deadly Toxoplasma gandii parasite-disease to wildlife even in remote areas.

    http://www.labspaces.net/view_news_comments.php?newsID=110760

    When disposing of cat carcasses now, be sure to bury them deeply enough or incinerate them so no other wildlife can become infected by them from eating the cat-meat. Wear gloves while doing so to protect yourself as well. Women who are pregnant can have their child born with severe neural birth defects (microcephaly or hydrocephaly) or miscarry or be still-born; or those with compromised immune systems (taking anti-rejection medication for transplants and skin-grafts at ANY time during your lifetime) can be deadly if you have contracted this disease. People with HIV may not be able to be kept alive by drugs if they contract this cats’ disease.

    I live where it is perfectly legal to defend your property and animals from destruction by others’ animals. I lost count after dispatching the first 20 vermin with a good .22, outfitted with laser-sight and zoom rifle-scope. I didn’t have to waste even one bullet, making this solution highly economical as well. Think of how many dollars and hours of your lives that you have spent trapping, transporting, calling, complaining, restoring damaged property, et.al. … and still all the problems that these useless cat-lovers have caused remains. If your aim is good this is far more humane than methods that “humane” societies use. Instead of dying a slow death by animal-shelter methods they don’t even know they’ve been shot. It is now the preferred method for disposing of feral cats in many states. (In fact, shooting is too good for them. By all rights, to make things perfectly even, they should be made to starve a slow death, just like they caused to all the predator wildlife. Or maimed to die a slow death, just like they did to all the prey they destroyed. But I’m not as inhumane as cat-lovers and their cats are.)

    It’s time to give cats and cat-lovers the same consideration and respect that they have for all humans and all wildlife–that means NONE. Don’t waste your time arguing with disrespectful, inconsiderate, and ignorant cat-lovers either, as I stupidly tried to do for years. Just do what needs to be done and there’ll be nothing to argue about.

    This year owls and foxes have returned to my woods. Through a large effort of my own, including raising and releasing native mice and voles to help repopulate some of the species that their useless cats destroyed. Their lousy cats are finally gone. But I’ll shoot again on first-sight the first chance I get. The rewards for ridding one’s land of ALL cats and restoring the native wildlife population are far too great.

    If you don’t have approval from your local law enforcement like I did, to fix the myriad problems that all “cat-lovers” have created for all of humanity and the world, then you might be interested in a far more effective cat management program than TNR. It’s called SSS — for Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-up. It’s now popular worldwide and “legal” everywhere. It may be the only thing that saves us from this ecological disaster that all the spineless and ecologically-ignorant law-makers have created. The drastic problems that cat-lovers have created by their blatant disrespect and lack of consideration for their environment, all other humans, and all animals now requires drastic actions by all those who actually care. It takes real strength of heart to do the right thing.

    Here’s a little insight to help you understand the root-cause of the problem. Now you’ll know EXACTLY why cat-lovers do what they do. It really has nothing at all to do with their concern for cats, nor even the lives of anyone nor anything else, quite the opposite.

    Human Territorial Behavior By Expendable Proxy

    I have come to the inexorable conclusion that the vast majority of cat-lovers and cat-owners that let their destructive invasive-species roam free, and especially those that defend the rights of feral cats to overtake public property and wildlife areas, are only (cowardly) using cats as a proxy for their own territorial behavior. Not unlike uneducated inner-city youth that will disrespectfully and inconsiderately use loud music to stake-out a territory for themselves. As long as they can have one of their possessions defecate in another’s yard or destroy their property, animals, and wildlife, and the yard-owner not have any recourse; the cat-owner owns that territory. It’s time to put a stop to them using their “cute kitty” excuse for usurping and stealing others’ property. If they want territory they can buy it just like anyone else. Instead they’re using underhanded, disrespectful, and manipulative means. By putting (and sacrificing) live animals in the path of their envy and greed. Again proving why they don’t care about cats nor anyone else at all. Cat-lovers only really want your lawn, yard, or forest while making all others and all other animals suffer for what they can’t have nor own. Bottom line–they want to control you and your property. That’s ALL that “cat-lovers” are really after. It’s why they don’t care at all if their cat nor any other animals, nor even other humans, get harmed by their goals and (lack of) values in life.

    • BrainLogic says:

      “Don’t, for even one moment, fall for the song and dance about cat-lovers being animal-lovers, they are anything but that. They don’t have ONE concern about any other animals nor even other humans. Cat-lovers are just like cats, the only thing they care about are themselves.”

      Bigoted much?

  18. Woodsman says:

    Why TNR and Cat Advocates Even Exist …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis#Behavioral_changes

    It has been found that Toxoplasma gondii parasite is capable of changing the brains of whatever organism it infests. In mice, they lose the fear of cats and fear response to cat-urine. Making the asexual portion of the Toxoplasma gondii life-cycle faster to complete in order to replicate more quickly into its sexual reproduction phase in all host cats. This loss of fear and apprehension manifesting itself in humans in a similar manner, even when common-sense tells them they should depend on that sense of fear or doubt for their own survival.

    Here are other ways that this parasite have been known to alter the thinking patterns of humans: http://wildlifeprofessional.org/blog/?p=3929

    I strongly suspect that it might even be responsible for all cat-lovers’ wholly contradictory behavior of putting cats, all other animals, and even all humans in harms way through their adamant insistence of promoting TNR programs, just to ensure the survival and spread of more Toxoplasma gondii parasites throughout the food-chain and in more humans. They are, in effect, being controlled against all reason and common-sense by the very parasite that is reproducing in their cats.

    The stuff that sci-fi used to be made of come to reality. Real-life “pod-people”. They can’t think nor reason beyond the need of ensuring the survival of Toxoplasma gondii. It won’t let them.

  19. Woodsman says:

    If it’s illegal worldwide to torture animals using any method (bullfighters seem exempt), then why are cat-owners allowed to torture ALL wildlife with their cats? Cats don’t just kill wildlife humanely (like one can kill a feral cat with a well-aimed bullet), cats torture any animal to play with it while it’s still alive and twitching with its entrails hanging out. It seems that the longer they can keep an animal alive the more enjoyment that cats get out of it. Shouldn’t outdoor-cat owners and all TNR groups be charged with this crime of animal-cruelty, fined heavily, and all of them serving severe jail sentences? There seems to be a drastic double-standard going on. They may not be torturing other animals with baseball-bats or other weapons in their hands, but their cats are just as much a tool of theirs.

    Would a dog owner be fined with the crime of animal-cruelty if he continually let his dog attack other animals? Of course, and it’s already happened, many times. Fined and convicted. It’s in the news often.

    This drastic double-standard needs to be corrected. With the fines that all cat-owners and TNR groups would have to pay we’d have the money to clean up this ecological disaster they created. Think of all the new jails that would have to be built to house them all too, all the new jobs. We could turn this ecological disaster into an economic recovery by finally making some use of useless cat-lovers.

    • gmcevoy says:

      ah, so that’s why Mimico Correctional is turning into Colditz, all the irresponsible cat owners

  20. Dave D says:

    Trapping as a solution is a failed concept from Day-One. Considering that there are now about 150 million feral-cats just in the USA alone, and 86 million pet-cats (60 million of which are allowed to still kill wildlife), this means that the cat-population is already oversaturated for a long time now. There’s only 311 million people in the USA, 2 cats now exist for every 3 people, from infant to senior. Nobody wants more than 86 million cats for pets. Now take into consideration their exponential growth-rate. An average litter of 5 new cats every 5-6 months. No amount of people trapping them, nor valuable resources (materials for traps, transport costs, vet costs, etc.), man-hours, nor money will ever catch up to their growth rate. You have an ecological disaster on your hands thanks to cat-lovers and TNR proponents. The faster they can be destroyed the better it MIGHT be. Even if using guns and having all stray and feral cats shot on-sight, we might still not be able to catch up to their exponential growth rate. Not even until every last land animal (including humans) is gone from this earth, due to cats destroying the whole food-chain, with nothing but cannibalistic cats left walking the land.

    Here is an interesting post from someone who believed in the lies she was told about TNR programs, found at http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/05/the-secret-lives-of-feral-cats/

    “I have been battling a feral cat population explosion on my farmette for 7 years. TNR does not work, as the trapped and neutered cats do not keep new cats from moving in and adding kittens. I have trapped over 25 kittens, tamed them, and found homes for them, but every spring there are dozens more. I have spent countless dollars neutering females and males, but they just keep coming! I have few wild birds now, fewer snakes, and there are bunny parts all over my property (cats must not particularly like the back feet). I wish there was a birth-control feed available, since many of these feral cats don’t come near the traps even when hungry. I wish every pet owner would neuter their cats so that these colonies weren’t added to.
    These are not happy feral cats, they frequently have infected eyes, worms, and are skinny and mangey. I don’t know what the answer is, but even in the country, a feral cat doesn’t live a secure, comfortable life.

    Comment by Dawn Hawes — June 21, 2011 @ 9:38 am”

    And YOU TOO can have a financially-stressed, ruled-by-cats, life like this if you believe in TNR.

    • Cee says:

      Birth control in the form of a food additive is available for hard to trap cats; it’s called FeralStat, http://feralstat.com/index.shtml.

      I haven’t used it & don’t have info about it’s safety or effectiveness – that you would have to look up & ask TNR groups about.

      Another reason you probably have so many kittens is because irresponsible people are continuing to abandon their cats on your property. I feel bad for those in the country where this happens all too often. Some organizations out there are trying to assist people in such circumstances, but you will have to seek them out to find out if funding is available – try searching for “barn cats” & TNR groups.

      Also try talking to TNR groups about their methods. Perhaps there are cats hiding elsewhere on or near your property that you aren’t seeing because they are afraid to approach your main feeding station.

      According to a recent ruling, if you keep track of your expenses, you may be able to have them reimbursed if you work with a registered group. (The group might let you contribute donations to pay for vetting & allow you to take your ferals to their vet for a reduced fee). See articles about “Cat Volunteer Wins Case for IRS Tax Relief Deductions in Tax Court”, http://www.taxresolution.com/blog/cat-volunteer-wins-case-for-irs-tax-relief-deductions-in-tax-court/

      “Jan Van Dusen, a volunteer for a cat rescue program, recently went to battle with Tax Court to deduct expenses for the care of some 70 plus cats. The article Stray Cat Strut: Woman Beats IRS published in the Wall Street Journal outlines how Ms. Van Dusen won her case against the tax court in her argument for the deduction for over $12,000 in bills accumulated for the care of the cats for the IRS approved charity Fix Our Ferals. The list of expenses included vet bills, litter, food and supplies all towards the care of the feral cats.

      What makes this case so interesting is that is setting a new precedent for volunteers all over the country to claim tax help in the form of deductions for the money spent on supplies for the care of animals for IRS approved charitable services…”

  21. Cee says:

    Trap-Neuter-Return of cats on the Stanford University campus:

    “Implementation of this program and its diligent upkeep have resulted in a healthy cat population, which is not reproducing and is steadily declining through natural attrition (death of aged cats) and adoption into homes. Since the implementation of the comprehensive program, the number of homless cats on campus has delined from an estimated 1500 at the program inception in 1989 to approximately 200 cats currently living on campus. This successful program has been recognized nationally as a model for the care and management of homeless cats.”

    “Studies have proven that trap-spay/neuter-vaccinate-release is the single most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cat colonies with the least possible cost to local governments and residents, while providing the best life for the animals themselves.” http://catnet.stanford.edu/about.html

    Bibliography, http://catnet.stanford.edu/resources_books.html

    TNR “Is more effective [1] and less costly than repeated attempts at extermination. The costs for repeatedly trapping and killing feral colonies are far higher than promoting stable, non-breeding colonies in the same location. Vacated areas are soon filled by other cats who start the breeding process over again.”

    [1] A Report on Trap/Alter/Release Programs, http://catnet.stanford.edu/articles/report.html

    • Jeff says:

      Cee,

      So your solution is for people to PAY EVEN MORE, and WASTE EVEN MORE OF THEIR VALUABLE LIVES, and DESTROY EVEN MORE WILDLIFE … just so you can spam a product?

      Nice plan!

  22. Jeff says:

    Here’s a simpler and more permanent solution, and it only costs 0.3 cents to 3 cents per cat WITH NO FURTHER COSTS INCURRED, EVER:

    SHOOT EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.

    Problem solved. Completely. Don’t let these wildlife-hating and human-hating TNR fools make fools out of you too.

  23. Jeff says:

    I guess they can’t read either.

    TRAPPING IS WHAT CAUSED US TO HAVE THE FERAL-CAT PROBLEM ESCALATE TO 150,000,000 AND CLIMBING.

    STOP THE SLOW AND USELESS TRAPPING, IT WILL NEVER CATCH UP TO THEIR REPRODUCTIVE RATES. ON TOP OF THAT, THE ONLY ONES THAT WILL SURVIVE ARE THOSE THAT HAVE LEARNED TO AVOID AND EVADE ALL TRAPS, ENSURING THE NEXT PHASE OF FERAL-CATS WON’T BE ABLE TO BE TRAPPED *AT* *ALL*!

    YOU STUPID TNR MORONS.

    SHOOT-ON-SIGHT IS THE *ONLY* METHOD THAT CAN EVEN HOPE TO APPROACH THEIR BIRTH-RATES.

    CASE CLOSED.

  24. Jeff says:

    Since you manipulative and deceitful TNR-advocates love to use the term “death by attrition” let us remind everyone what you are really saying:

    at•tri•tion \e-”tri-shen, a-\ noun [L attrition-, attritio, fr. atterere to rub against, fr. ad- + terere to rub — more at throw] (14c)
    3 : the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack
    4 : a reduction in numbers usu. as a result of resignation, retirement, or death
    at•tri•tion•al \-”tri-sh(e-)nel\ adjective

    Gee, that #3 definition sure sounds like ANIMAL CRUELTY to me! How come ALL TNR ADVOCATES are not yet fined and serving long prison sentences for all their ANIMAL CRUELTY?

    Don’t cover up your abuse of animals with feel-good words like “death by attrition”. Call if for what it REALLY IS — CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. You lying, deceitful, manipulative, hypocrites. Every last one of you!

  25. Al D. says:

    By the way, look up the term these TNR advocates just LOVE to use on how they reduce their feral-cat numbers, their feel-good term of “Death by Attrition”. This means that the cat will die from disease, cat-attacks, animal-attacks, exposure to the elements, being road-kill, starvation, and any other means that drastically shortens the life of those cats. ALL their cats suffering for how many months or years it takes to die that way. In many parts of this country and the world this clearly falls under the guidelines for cruelty to animals, animal-abuse, and animal-abandonment laws.

    If you want to raise revenue for your towns and cities in order to deal with this invasive-species ecological-disaster properly, start charging all these TNR advocates with severe fines and imprisonment for CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. Not only are they cruelly torturing cats, but also all the wildlife that they inflict their cats upon.

    They’re not doing this out of any goodness of their hearts. THEY DON’T HAVE HEARTS. Proved, 100%.

  26. MOC says:

    I don’t know about the large scale efficacy of TNR, but I have 6 semi-feral cats hanging around my garage. I can’t bring myself to kill them, they are young and the product of a feral mother who had them in my garage a few months ago. I’ve found a shelter who will neuter them for a reasonable price ($25 for males $40 for females) with an additional $10 per cat for rabies and distemper vaccinations. It’s an alternative I can live with. I don’t mind feeding the damned things, I just don’t want them to reproduce.

    By the way, Jeff you are an imbecile.

  27. Jeff says:

    MOC, a TRUE imbecile is someone who would stick knives into an INVASIVE SPECIES animal to sterilize them ONLY to release them back out into nature so they can suffer and slowly die while they torture and destroy all native wildlife.

    Cats listed in the TOP 100 WORST INVASIVE SPECIES OF THE WORLD

    Global Invasive Species Database

    http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss

    Note this FUN FACT, they are now even spreading THE PLAGUE along with about a half-dozen other diseases that are deadly to all other animals and even humans.

    http://www.pagosasun.com/archives/2011/07July/072811/webplague.html
    http://outbreaknews.com/2011/07/29/colorado-stray-cat-tests-positive-plague/

  28. Collin says:

    Finally, a site where skeptics are actually debating ethics! God, or not, bless Canada!

  29. Collin says:

    Woodsman, you are a disgrace to this forum, you redneck hellcat-conspiracy theorist! Go to a gun-toting Jesus-freak forum and leave us logicians alone!

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Welcome, but if you’re going to participate, please tone down the insults… or we will set Gamera upon you. It won’t be pleasant. He smells strongly of seaweed.

  30. Woodsman says:

    If you do your research you’ll quickly find out that *ANY* TNR program and their advocates are making absolute fools out of everyone that they con with their nonsense. Not only causing untold damage of wildlife and further spread of deadly diseases but are also doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to curtail cats’ breeding rates.

    Not even *ONE* TNR program has EVER trapped more than 0.4% of existing cats in any one area for over a decade now. They simply cannot trap them faster than they breed out of control, no matter what they do. And those cats that learn to evade traps go on to produce offspring that now also know how to evade any trapping method used. This is why, due to TNR-Advocates’ insistence that they have the “solution for everyone”, that our feral-cat population has now climbed to an ecologically-deadly 150 MILLION feral cats across the USA. Soon to turn into 1.5 BILLION cats within the year if you apply cats’ breeding rates to previous population numbers.

    Find whatever way that you can to destroy all feral and stray cats on-sight. Avoid using traps if at all possible because trapping is what slowed everything down to where cat populations have now sky-rocketed out of control.

    On advice of the local sheriff where I live I used a .22 equipped with a good illuminated-scope and a laser-sight for use when they are most active, dusk to dawn. I shot every last one of them on my property to try to restore all the native wildlife to proper balance. Mission accomplished! The cost was only 0.3 CENT per cat this way (5000 rounds on sale for only $15). And contrary to another famous TNR-Advocate’s bald-faced “vacuum effect” LIE … NO CATS REPLACED THEM. The NATIVE predators and their required NATIVE prey that WAS here and BELONGS here is what replaced these lousy invasive-species cats that destroyed the native food-chain.

    May you have as much success as I did, and so inexpensively too.

    p.s. Avoid the use of poisons if at all possible that, if released into the food-chain, might harm the very wildlife that you are trying to save from destruction by cats. And please bury or incinerate the carcasses so all the highly toxic diseases that cats now carry won’t go on to harm or infect more wildlife or humans. Which, if you do a Google search, now even includes cats spreading The Plague in the USA. So much for that myth that cats would have saved people from The Plague in Europe, cats would have made it far worse!

  31. Informed says:

    Woodsman and Jeff “Spaying and Neutering is not just for Cat” you are both prime candidates and a little culling of the Human Colony wouldn’t hurt either. One can only hope you find yourself at some point in your life helpless and at the mercy of some hungry animal….I would laugh if it was of the feline persuasion. I can site many colonies that have been almost 100% TNR and the populations do decrease as does the nuisance complaints from the area. You have no idea what people involved in TNR or any other animal advocates/lovers think as none I know would give people like you the time of day. Most of what you have to say is your opinion and not based on fact or experience. I am sure you gain great pleasure in your killing of many other animals as well as the cats. It sounds like you derive great pleasure from you exploits. Just remember for every action there is a reaction, a return of like energy shall we say, so I would be watching out for Karma to bite you in the ass…..

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  • Michael Kruse

    Michael is an advanced-care paramedic in York Region, just north of Toronto, Ontario. A semi-retired theatrical lighting designer as well, he re-trained in 2005 as an EMT-PS at the University of Iowa and as an ACP at Durham College, and is currently working towards a B.Sc at the University of Toronto. Michael is a founder and the chair of the board of directors of Bad Science Watch. He is also the recipient of the first annual Barry Beyerstein Award for Skepticism. Follow Michael on twitter @anxiousmedic. Michael's musings are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his employer or Bad Science Watch.