The number one documented cause of death for cats in America is being killed in shelters. Over 70% of cats entering shelters are euthanized—a figure that rises to nearly 100% for feral cats, who cannot be adopted. For decades, animal control policy has wasted millions of dollars catching and killing outdoor cats, but populations of cats are still there, just as they always have been. Clearly, this cruel and costly system has failed.
The Fix’Em Clinic is dedicated to reducing the number of animals euthanized in shelters each year. This is why we are working on implementing our own TNR program for community cats. Please continuing checking out our website for more information to come!
What is the Difference Between a Stray Cat and a Feral Cat?
Stray and feral cats are often referred to as “community cats,” which can be used to describe any free-roaming, outdoor cat.
A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence.
Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.
Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people.
A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. They are fearful of people and survive on their own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.
Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be euthanized if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors.
What is Trap-Neuter-Return?
Trap-Neuter-Return, or "TNR," is the most humane and effective method known for managing feral and stray cats and reducing their numbers. The cats, who typically live together in a group called a colony, are trapped and brought to a veterinary clinic. They're then spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies where appropriate and eartipped. After they've recovered from their surgeries, the cats are returned back to their original territory where a caretaker provides regular food and shelter.
Because the cats can no longer reproduce, the colony has the potential to decline in size over time. Spaying and neutering also greatly reduce nuisance behavior. Once the cats are fixed, fighting, yowling and other noise associated with mating stops almost entirely. The foul odor caused by unaltered males spraying to mark territory disappears and the cats, no longer driven to mate, roam much less and become less visible. The cats themselves are healthier and less likely to spread feline diseases. Meanwhile, rodent control is maintained by the cats' continued presence.
Why Doesn't Removing Cats From an Area Work?
Removing cats from an area by killing or relocating them is not only cruel—it’s pointless. Animal control agencies and city governments have blindly perpetuated this futile approach for decades. But scientific research, years of failed attempts, and evidence from animal control personnel prove that “catch and kill” doesn’t permanently clear an area of cats.
Scientific evidence indicates that removing feral cat populations only opens up the habitat to an influx of new cats, either from neighboring territories or born from survivors. Each time cats are removed, the population will rebound through a natural phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect,” drawing the community into a costly, endless cycle of trapping and ultimately euthanizing.