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 4500 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 that 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? One alternative is a cat safe haven 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 cat safe haven in Minnesota, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals, too, can help prevent cat colonies from forming or offer an 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.
Approximately 35% of owners allow their cats to roam free, resulting in thousands of cats going missing every year and creating outdoor colonies of cats. We promote that cats be kept inside where they are safe as the best alternative for cats. We encourage people who allow their cats outside to accompany them using a harness.
Another alternative is to provide a safe area for them. Follow this link to a video showing how you can provide an outside area that is safe for your cat using cat proof fencing: Purrfect Fencing Video
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.
This is a problem that was created by humans, and can be solved by humans. If you see one cat or several cats in your area, do something immediately, otherwise, there will be more quickly. Please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll tell you how to get started.