Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Monday, 3 March 2014

Myths and facts about “managed” cat colonies

Winter, L. (undated). Myths and facts about “managed” cat colonies. ABC

1. Cat colonies don't just die out in one or two years: Although promoters of Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) often claim that the colonies die out through attrition in just a few years, there is very little evidence to support this claim. Even the Adams Morgan cat colony of only 30 original cats in the District of Columbia, which was "managed" by the founders of Alley Cat Allies, took 10 years to die out. It is often difficult to trap all of the cats, the cat food that is left out attracts more cats, and cat colonies often become dumping grounds for unwanted pets (Donald, R.L. 1992. Should Feral Cats Be Euthanized? Shelter Sense: 3-7). Volunteers can become overwhelmed and may not have all of the financial resources or the manpower needed to trap and alter every cat in a colony (Passamsi, w.c., D.W. Macdonald. 1990. The Fate of Controlled Feral Cat Colonies. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Hertfordshire, England. 48).
Please note the following: "It's just so overwhelming. I'm in over my head. I can't even afford to eat or buy clothes or do anything. I wake up in the morning hoping I can make it through the day." (Puzzanghera, J. 1995. So Many Cats, So Little Time, San Jose Mercury News, July 19, 1995.)

2. TNR is not meant to eliminate colonies of cats: The purpose of TNR is NOT to eliminate cat colonies, but to perpetuate them because cat feeders believe that if a neutered colony is removed, an intact colony will move in and take it's place.
Please see the following: "You will never get rid of the cats in that area, and it is not advisable to do that. Because if you're doing a neutering to eradicate the cats by neutering, and remove them completely from the area, you are just being the same as somebody who wishes to go and trap them out and kin them. All you're doing is delaying the day Of death." (From a presentation by Roger Tabor, Alley Cat Allies Seminar, "Focus on Ferals," July 8, 1994, Washington, DC.)
More cats may move into an area ONLY if the food source remains. If cats are trapped out and the food source is removed, a cat colony will not reform in that location. This is exactly what occurred at Riverside National Park where over 25 cats were being fed daily. Over the strong objections of the cat feeders and Alley Cat Allies, and in the face of a negative media campaign, the National Park Service removed the cats, the feeding was stopped, and no additional cats have congregated in the area. The Cats were not euthanized, but taken to a local Shelter (Sealy, D. 1996. Removal of a Colony of Free-Ranging Cats From an Area Administered by the National Park Service: A Case History, in: Proceedings of the 1995 International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Conference, Virginia Beach, VA. Pp 75-77).

3. Cat colonies attract other predators: The cat food left out attracts raccoon, skunk, opossum, fox, coyote, and rats, all predators of birds and carriers of diseases that can be transmitted to other cats, wildlife, or humans, such as rabies. No one is neutering and giving rabies vaccinations to these animals to control their populations and the spread of disease. I have personally witnessed a huge rat hole right under a cat feeding station, and studies have shown that cats do not do a very good job of Controlling rat populations (Childs, J. E. 1991. And the Cat Shall Lie Down With the Rat, Natural History: 16 - 19).
I also have slides of raccoons at cat feeding stations, and e-mail messages from cat feeders discussing the problem of raccoon and opposum at their stations.

4. The cats are not always tested or vaccinated for fatal feline diseases: Some groups, such as the Feral Cat Coalition (http://www.feralcat.com/tpolicy.html), do not follow the American Veterinary Medical Association's guidelines which state that cats in a "managed" cat colony should be tested and vaccinated for infectious diseases and adopted or euthanized if positive. Thus, diseased cats in "managed" cat colonies could come in contact with and infect free-roaming pet cats. Cats with fatal feline diseases will suffer and die a miserable death, calling into question the very humaneness of this practice.

5. Domestic cats are not strictly territorial: Cat feeders will often say that altered cats defend their territory, and do not let other cats join the colony. There is scant scientific evidence to support this claim either. It is well-known that the home ranges of domestic cats overlap. In fact, Dr. Carol Haspel, who conducted a number of studies of cat colonies in Brooklyn, NY, says that cats occupying a certain area "absolutely do not" keep others out, "particularly if there is a feeder." (Donald, R.L. 1992. Should Feral Cats Be Euthanized? Shelter Sense: 3-7).

6. Well-fed, altered cats still kill birds and can impact wildlife populations: It has been extensively documented that domestic cats can severely impact seabird populations on islands (Moors, P.J. and I.A.E. Atkinson. 1984. Predation on seabirds by introduced animals, and factors affecting its severity. ICBP Technical Publication 2:667-690), and well-fed Cats still kill wildlife (Adamec, R.E. 1976. The interaction of hunger and preying in the domestic cat (Felis catus): an adaptive hierarchy? Behavioral Biology 18: 263-272.)
Cats and other predators can also have an impact on songbird populations in fragmented and isolated habitat (Wilcove, D.S. 1985. Nest predation in forest tracts and the decline of migratory songbirds. Ecology 66: 1211- 1214.)

Please see the following quote regarding a scientific study conducted in two California parks-one with over 20 cats that were fed daily, and one without cats:
Cats at artificially high densities, sustained by supplemental feeding, reduced the abundance of native rodent and bird populations, changed the rodent species composition, and may have facilitated the expansion of the house mouse into new areas. Thus we recommend that the feeding of cats in parks Should be Strictly prohibited. (Hawkins, C.C., W.E. Grant, М.Т. Longnecker. 1999. Effect of Subsidized House Cats on California Birds and Rodents. 1999 Transactions of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society 35: 29-33.)

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