Since 2001, Minnesota Spay/Neuter Project has worked in partnership with local animal shelters, veterinarians, and other non-profit animal welfare organization to spay and neuter over 4000 pets in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Most of the animals in need of spay/neuter help are cats because there so many cats. With the introduction of the Trap-Neuter-Release programs in the 1970s, stray and feral cats are now given a chance at life. It’s an improvement over extermination, and a step in the right direction. But TNR is really not a good long-term solution to the problems associated with cat colonies. It’s a Band-Aid approach at best, and it’s time to move towards a more humane, permanent solution.
House cats are domestic animals. Even feral cats are not wild animals, and they are not equipped to take care of themselves. Thousands of years of breeding has gone into making them companion animals – and like all companion animals, they rely on humans for food, shelter and care. We have a responsibility to these creatures to give them safe, comfortable lives.
The lives of outside cats are nasty, brutish and short. Illnesses that a housecat would shake off with a quick trip to the vet can be devastating. Minor injuries turn into infections that kill slowly and painfully. And sadly, there are all too many humans who are needlessly cruel to unprotected animals. It’s worth asking, then, whether we are doing the right thing by releasing these cats back into the same situation. Read about Lahela…
Cat colonies cause a host of greater problems, as well. Read more…
But what, then, can we do? There aren’t enough foster homes for the cats in colonies but it’s something we can work toward. Ideally, no cat should be left to fend for itself in the wild. There are several programs throughout the US that offer enclosed sanctuary for cats. They provide food, water, and medical care. Whenever possible, cats in these sanctuaries are socialized and adopted. In cases where they can’t be socialized, they are allowed free run within an enclosed area. These programs are, of course, more expensive and time-consuming to run than a TNR program, and people have argued that, for the same amount of money, TNR can save more cats’ lives than a sanctuary could. But quality of life must be considered; if a feral cat is returned to the same harsh conditions it encountered before neutering, and is left to die an agonizing death within months, can that really be considered being rescued? It is unrealistic to think that we can provide the level of care that sanctuary programs such as Tabby’s Place does overnight. These programs involve years of planning and, yes, are expensive to run. But we can start to move in that direction. Another alternative is a cat sanctuary that can be set up in an existing location with approximately 100 sq ft of space and access to electricity and water. It provides a safe haven for about 50 cats and also protects wildlife in the area. Here is a video of such a safe haven If you would be interested in participating in a pilot project of a similar safe haven in Minnesota, please contact us @ email@example.com
Individuals, too, can choose to offer enclosed sanctuary to found cats. MSNP has worked with many people who have reached out to small groups of stray and feral cats. Through patience and time, and excellent resources such as Best Friends Guide to socializing shy and fearful cats, the cats were fostered and in many cases adopted into new homes. If you see one cat or several cats in your area, do something immediately, otherwise, there will be more quickly. Please contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you how to get started.
Trap-Neuter-Release does not have to be limited to a one time spay/neuter event. With enough volunteer support and resources, we can move towards a Trap-Neuter-Protect approach; cats are microchipped, monitored, and re-trapped on a periodic basis. They are then treated for illnesses and injuries, such as ear mites, mange, and infections, preventing them from becoming serious health problems. They can be re-evaluated to see whether socialization might, after all, be a possibility, It is not true that socialization is always impossible. And in the worst cases, where medical intervention is ineffective, they can at least be euthanized quickly and humanely, rather than left to suffer for months.
Cat colonies exist because unknowing people allow their cats outside without supervision thinking they are safe. Unfortunately, cats may wander too far and become lost and never find their way back home. There are many reasons to keep your cat safe inside your home. See the 20 reasons to keep your cat indoors.
This is a problem that was created by humans, and can be solved by humans. Trap-Neuter-Protect is the next logical step towards ending the suffering in cat colonies and in making neighborhoods safe and livable for all inhabitants.