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My Pet World: Trapping and neutering/spaying feral cats is humane solution

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I live in a 55 and older community. Last year, we had about 20 feral cats roaming the complex. People here are boarding them up under trailers so they can't get out. Several have talked about killing them. I was threatened with major fines because I gave two kittens that stayed in my yard food and water after they came to my door crying. I probably shouldn't have fed them, but I could tell they were starving.

What can I do or who can I contact to help? The people here just complain but will not pay to have anything done and they don't care about TNR (trap, neuter, return). They don't understand other cats will just move in if they exterminate them.

I am at a loss. I'm the only person here who seems to care. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

-- L. Nelson, Tucson, Arizona

Dear L.,


Thank you for caring about these cats. People often forget that feral and community cats are the result of people dumping their cats on the streets. Sadly, other people frustrated by the situation often blame the cats for being in their neighborhoods and want them hauled off or killed rather than trying to find humane ways to help these abandoned felines.

Most people want someone to take these cats away, but there typically aren't people at animal control or local shelters that do this because that would result in euthanasia and, as you point out, also would create a void in the neighborhood that would eventually be filled with other cats.

The goal of the community is to make sure these cats don't reproduce. With spring coming, there is a good chance that by the time you read my response, every female feral/community cat in your neighborhood will be pregnant. Cats can have two to six kittens a litter and give birth several times a year. Your neighborhood will be even more overrun with cats if they aren't fixed soon.

The best thing your fellow residents can do is TNR, which you mentioned. This is the humane solution for reducing feral cats in the community and involves trapping the cats and taking them to a clinic to get fixed and vaccinated. The clinic also will clip the cat's left ear indicating that the cat has been fixed and return the cat to its neighborhood. The goal is to stabilize the cat population by making sure no kittens are born. If the cats are fixed and fed, they generally aren't even seen much in the neighborhood except by the people who feed them.


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