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12 years ago
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We recommend trap/neuter/return (TNR) as the most humane and cost effective way to help feral cats. At Best Friends, we run a free TNR program for all the nearby communities. Our No More Homeless Pets in Utah campaign provides $10 vouchers for neutering feral cats across the state, and the Big Fix mobile spay-neuter van travels the state fixing feral cats (and pet cats and dogs) at deeply discounted prices. These three programs combined neuter several thousand feral cats each year. In Los Angeles, Best Friends sponsors Catnippers, a monthly free spay/neuter clinic for feral cats. Since the program was launched in 1999, over 2,500 ferals have been neutered, and 100 more are fixed each month. And through the Best Friends Network of more than 12,000 volunteers nationwide, we've been part of helping many other successful TNR efforts in communities from Maine to California. For feral cats, "home" is always the turf they have staked out, be it a barn, alley, industrial park, or suburban backyard. Our part is getting them fixed and lending a helping hand in terms of food and shelter wherever we can. If you need help with a local feral colony or additional information on feral cats, please email the Best Friends Network at or call 435-644-2001 ext. 123.
That's What This Group Is About
12 years ago

Trap Neuter Release!

That's it. We need more TNR programs. I know of a health care facility-for humans-that has tons of feral cats on its property who make more feral cats.


Low Cost Help for Getting Pets Spayed/Neutered
12 years ago
Low cost help for getting pets spayed/neutered:

This site lists organizations by state in the US.

Spay USA also has good information in dealing with feral cats, also a link to the right on this page to "find low-cost spay/neuters" in your area.

This post was modified from its original form on 13 Mar, 17:16
12 years ago

Lots of good free and low cost spay/neuter programs here.

Don't Kill the Cats
12 years ago

We, the Undersigned, endorse the following petition:
Oppose the Killing of Cats
  • Signatures: 165
  • Goal: 5,000
  • Deadline: Ongoing...

In the U.S., more cats are intentionally killed than die of any other cause. But this doesn't have to be the case.

Virtually every feral cat that enters a shelter or animal control facility is killed. The very system that is supposed to care about the welfare of animals is, in fact, subjecting them to a ruthless policy of extermination.

Funded by taxpayer dollars, these inhumane programs do not effectively control cat population growth. Only one method - Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) - does.

All cats, even those born outside and having never lived with a human family, should be allowed to live the lives they deserve - outdoors, happy, healthy and prevented from becoming part of an endless cycle of breeding.

Sign the petition below showing that you want the killing of feral cats to stop. Then learn about the TNR method and how you can take personal action to help these cats.

Mediation Workshop
11 years ago
Mediation Workshop: How to Better Negotiate for the Cats

Sterilizing helps to control the population, but Mediation could help save their lives. Mediation of complaints is an important part of ensuring that your colony remains safe after they have been sterilized. Join Alley Cat Allies for a short workshop on handling complaints and keeping the neighbors happy. Presented by Dawn Kua of the Cat Welfare Society in Singapore.

When: October 3, 2007

Where: BARCS
301 Stockholm Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230

11 years ago
Helping Community Cats

Are you tired of seeing kittens everywhere? Do you want to know how you can help them and stop future generations from being born in your community? Join us for a short workshop on how to educate your neighbors, create a safety-net for the cats, and stop the cycle of breeding your neighborhood.

When: September 19th and 26th,
7 - 9 pm

3300 Falls Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21211

If you would like to attend, e-mail
Counting Cats
11 years ago
Counting Cats By Hillary Twining What population ecology models can tell us about TNR programs

Getting people to agree on strategies for helping feral colonies can seem as difficult as herding cats. And although animal advocates have developed strong arguments to promote trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, success has typically been expressed through reports of the numbers of cats sterilized rather than through long-term population measurements. But a recent study using a population ecology model—which examines the structure and dynamics of populations and how those populations interact with their environments—points to the need for greater refinement of current TNR programs.

According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 227, No. 11), feral cats are territorial and are likely to reproduce most quickly when their population is low. Feral colonies tend to expand their numbers until the “carrying capacity”—the maximum sustainable population—is reached, a measurement that depends primarily on the availability of food and territory. Previous feral cat control programs have shown that reducing the population below the carrying capacity produces no long-term reduction; the remaining population of unsterilized cats will simply increase back to its original carrying capacity. The authors cited a 1979 case in which virulent panleukopenia was released on Marion Island in South Africa to control the feral cat population. “Within 5 years, intrinsic population growth rates were reported to have increased 4 times,” wrote researchers Patrick Foley, Ph.D.; Janet Foley, D.V.M., Ph.D.; Julie Levy, D.V.M., Ph.D.; and Terry Paik, D.V.M. In essence, the cats who remained increased their birth rates to compensate for the reduction in their numbers.

By contrast, the researchers wrote, “TNR has the potential advantage of allowing niches to become saturated with neutered individual cats,” which over time seems to produce a gradual, humane reduction in population.

Researchers collected data from the Feral Cat Coalition in San Diego County, California, and Operation Catnip in Alachua County, Florida. In both programs, feral cats were live-trapped and transferred about once a month to participating veterinary clinics, where they were neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their colonies. From 1992 to 2003, the Feral Cat Coalition in California trapped 14,452 cats, of whom 4 percent had already been neutered and 17.2 percent were pregnant. Operation Catnip trapped 11,822 cats between 1998 and 2004, of whom 2 percent had already been neutered and 16 percent were pregnant. In both cases, the presence of pregnant cats was strongly seasonal, with numbers increasing in the spring for San Diego County and peaking in both March and August for Alachua County.

To achieve a long-term reduction in cat population, it’s necessary to reach a “critical neutering rate” that varies by population, according to the researchers. Critical neutering rates depend on two factors: how quickly the population multiplies and how long cats survive. Researchers determined that the critical neutering rate for feral cats was 71 percent in San Diego County and 94 percent in Alachua County. At these levels, the maximum per capita rate of increase—the maximum mean number of female cats produced annually from each female cat—would drop to less than zero, and the size of the colonies would gradually decrease. However, the actual annual neutering rate was only 14 percent in San Diego County and 19 percent in Alachua County, meaning that an overall reduction in either of the counties was not detected.

Although the study’s results are disappointing from the standpoint of demonstrating long-term success of two large TNR programs, this population ecology model offers a more sophisticated meth

11 years ago
>  Trap-Neuter-Release-Success?
By Katina Antoniades    

 Study evaluates effects of feral cat sterilization program

Although a recent study on a Florida spay/neuter program for feral cats wasn’t able to identify the program’s precise effects, the results published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (Vol. 5, No. 4, 2002) suggest that a feral cat trap-neuter-return program can be an important facet of a community strategy to fight pet overpopulation.

Written by Kathy L. Hughes and Margaret R. Slater of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A & M University and Linda Haller of the Hawaiian Humane Society, the study focuses on the feral cat sterilization program that Haller oversaw when she managed Orange County Animal Services in Orlando.

Begun in 1995, the trap-and-return program was a cooperative effort between the county and a local volunteer group. Though the county had tried in the past to address feral cat issues, those efforts had focused mainly on trapping and euthanasia—and had failed to reduce the numbers.

Under the new program, the volunteer group trapped the cats and brought them to the county to be spayed or neutered, eartipped, and vaccinated against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rabies. (Some were later re-trapped for a subsequent vaccination.) The surgery was free, and caretakers paid $5 for each rabies vaccination.

“High-risk males” or cats who appeared ill were tested for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus infections, and, if positive, were euthanized. Kittens were not returned to the colonies but were socialized and, if possible, put up for adoption. Those who appeared to be at least seven weeks old were neutered or spayed.

From fiscal years 1990 to 2001, the period during which data was collected, the county sterilized 37,182 cats, including 7,903 ferals. Analysis of the program’s results was complicated by concurrent changes to regulations and other animal control programs (the study did not identify these), but statistics were still significant.

The number of cat impoundments remained stable during the study period, despite an increase of 32 percent in the human population. Although intake rates did not decrease as expected, the authors note, “This may reflect in part a change in the county code of September 1995, in which a renewed emphasis was placed on enforcement.”

The adoption rate during that period reached 12 percent, twice as high as it had been during the six years before the trapping program began. Euthanasia of impounded cats decreased by 18 percent from fiscal year 1996 to fiscal year 2001. (Feral cats who had already been spayed or neutered did not factor into impoundment statistics.)

The frequency of cat-related complaints also fell—by 25 percent between the mid-90s and 2001. The county’s policy of requiring relocation of colonies deemed a “nuisance” may have contributed to this decline (though the need for relocation was rare); public awareness also may have increased during the years because of educational outreach on the part of volunteers and rescue groups.

Reducing the financial cost of addressing feral cat issues was a goal of the program from the beginning, with county officials surmising that a neuter-release program would be less expensive and less labor-intensive than impoundment. They appeared to be right: Spaying and neutering the feral cats totaled $442,568, according to the study, substantially less than the estimated $1.1 million it would have cost to impound and euthanize the cats.

Other positive trends were recorded during the study period. The authors observed that the relationship between animal services staff and citizens concerned about feral cats improved, and that “citizens who previously felt overwhelmed by the dilemma of feral cats they saw in their neighborhood now feel empowered and able to make a difference in these cats’ lives.”

While the authors acknowledge that “separating out the effects of a single program may be impossible,” they stress that no negative consequences were recorded for the sterilization program. They also laud the creation of the program itself.

“The establishment of the feral cat program was done without a change in the county code,” they wrote, “through the persistence and teamwork of concerned citizens and county officials.”


    Reproduced from the July-August 2003 issue of Animal Sheltering magazine.
And Then There Were 22...
11 years ago
And Then There Were 22 ...
By Nancy Lawson    

Study conducted at a Florida university finds that patience, diligence, and discretion in a trap-neuter-return program can cut free-roaming cat numbers

It’s possible to reduce free-roaming cat populations through trap-neuter-return programs, but patience and careful monitoring are key to long-term success, according to the results of a study published recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 222, No. 1, January 1, 2003).

Written by Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, of the University of Florida and David W. Gale and Leslie A. Gale of Friends of Campus Cats, the study also concluded that, despite frequent statements to the contrary, cats in established colonies often don’t have enough of a territorial instinct to prevent new arrivals from joining their ranks.

During the 11-year study on the 1,415-acre campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, caretakers came into contact with a total of 155 free-roaming cats who were either permanent residents or temporary guests of colonies that had existed near dormitories and food services buildings since the late ’60s. Students and university employees began sterilizing and adopting cats in 1991; the program worked so well that by 1995, they stopped seeing kittens.

By 1996, when a complete census of all existing colonies was taken and caretakers counted a total of 68 cats, all but one were already sterilized. By the end of the study in 2002, the number had dwindled again, this time by two-thirds: only 22 feral cats and one socialized adult cat remained. The rest of the original 155 cats were no longer on campus for the following reasons: 73 (47%) had been adopted; 9 (6%) had gone into nearby woods; 23 (15%) had disappeared; 10 (6%) had died either from “automobile trauma” or for unknown reasons; and 17 (11%) had been euthanized—11 because of positive test results for FeLV or FIV and the rest for neoplasia, injury, or unspecified diseases.
11 years ago
As part of the decade-long effort to reduce numbers through trapping and long-term care, Friends of Campus Cats volunteers transported the animals to Orange County Animal Services and to private clinics. Veterinarians performed sterilization surgery; ear-tipped; tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV); and vaccinated against panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, and rabies. Veterinary involvement also included euthanasia of sick cats, injured cats, and cats who tested positive for FeLV and FIV.

Caretakers kept cats sustained and safe by placing food dishes in small moats that helped prevent insect infestation and by locating feeding stations in out-of-sight areas. Efforts to keep public attention at bay in this manner may be critical to colony reduction, Levy and the Gales wrote, citing evidence from a previous Florida study in which the number of cats actually increased after one year of trapping and sterilization. The failure of that project, they believe, was a result of the heightened visibility of well-fed cat colonies; publicity can be an open invitation to those who want to abandon their cats and think it’s humane to do so at a site frequented by caretakers.

“Immigration or abandonment of new cats may be a frequent event, and free-roaming cats do not appear to have sufficient territorial activity to prevent new arrivals from permanently joining colonies,” Levy and her fellow researchers noted. “These new arrivals could substantially limit the success of TNR if an ongoing surveillance and maintenance program is not effective.”

The discretion of caretakers in the UCF program was successful in minimizing public awareness of the colonies and keeping abandonment to a minimum. Even so, existing colonies were not static. “Sexually intact socialized cats that were apparently abandoned joined the colonies; their presence could have undermined the control program had they not been promptly captured and neutered,” wrote the researchers. “Migration of cats between colonies was common ...”

In addition to immediate sterilization of newcomers and discreet placement of food dishes, an aggressive adoption program for socialized cats can help accelerate the often slow decline in numbers achieved through spay/neuter and natural attrition, according to the researchers. In fact, adoptions contributed substantially to the decrease in the cat population on the UCF campus.

“It has been reported that feral cats become less aggressive toward each other and more friendly toward their feeders following neutering, and this may have encouraged adoption of previously feral cats,” the researchers reported. “Cats were often transferred to private homes only after several years of free-roaming status. The permanent placement of cats in homes is consistent with conventional animal welfare values; the more traditional pet lifestyle is considered to meet the needs of domesticated pet species better than a homeless and free-roaming existence.”

But at the very least, a trap-and-return program that includes sterilization, testing, and vaccination can improve the health of free-roaming cats by preventing the birth of kittens and increasing weight and body condition, the researchers concluded. And, they suggest, carefully run trapping programs are more successful than removal and euthanasia of cats—a method university administrators had already tried. “In our study, employees and students openly violated policies against feeding the cats and interfered with trapping efforts by university officials during removal campaigns,” the researchers noted. “In contrast, programs that control the population and improve the well-being of cats via neutering frequently have the support of cat feeders who may be recruited to assist with trapping and management.”


    Reproduced from the May-June 2003 issue of Animal Sheltering magazine.
The Cats Have Already Been TNR'd - How Do I Save Their Lives?
11 years ago

I live in an apartment complex whose ferals have already been TNR'd by a young man who spent hours and hundreds of dollars on the effort.  My apartment management team are rabid cat haters and have threatened to take the cats to the city shelter, which signs the cats' death warrants, as you know.  The young man and I have pretty much given up on the manager's stubborn stance in this situation.  We have both tried to educate him about the cats, but he simply persists in complaining about cats being on his car, fleas, hair, the fact that they shouldn't be there, etc.  He even seems to lie, saying that other tenants are complaining, but the complaints sound just like his.

I'm both afraid for the cats' lives that he might go ahead one of these days and start to try trapping them, and also for the roof over my head, in case he retaliates and tries to find an angle with which to evict me.

I don't really know what to do now.

11 years ago
January 24, 2008

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. - According to the Department of Agriculture, there are an estimated 800,000 homeless cats living in Massachusetts. One animal control officer's cat licensing plan looks to raise money to curb that problem.

The town of East Longmeadow is home to a portion of that number, and that's why Animal Control Officer Linda Johnson says a licensing program is necessary.

As of right now, dogs there must be licensed with the city, but not cats.

Her approach is simple. Require cat owners to bring their pets in to be licensed. Licensing costs $3-5, and gives the city basic info about the felines.

Even if the move passes, she expects only a portion of the population will comply. But the money raised will fund a Trap-Neuter-Return program.

Johnson says there are a number of colonies throughout the area. One, she says, started with 50 and grew to 300 un-spayed, un-neutered, un-vaccinated felines. The woman who was feeding them was unwilling to let Johnson take any, let alone trap, neuter and return them.

Currently there are two vets who spay, neuter and vaccinate local cats once a month. But if residents aren't willing or able to bring an entire colony in, it's unlikely anything will be done.

Johnson says that a rabies epidemic in a neighboring town has her worried about the feral cat population. Her program would allow her to provide those vital vaccinations, as well.

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