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Web letter by Madeleine Laird: Neutering feral cats best way to control population

To Scott Shady (“Focus on feral cats misdirected,” March 14): It seems you are a very conscientious person who cares deeply about the cats unfortunate enough to be born without indoor homes, and I applaud your concern. There is more to the story, though.

The current policies of trap and euthanize are ineffective and not making any reduction in the number of feral cats in our community. Animal Care and Control will also verify that. While I agree that the life of a feral is often short and hard, the mission of the trap-neuter-return policy is ultimately to end this condition permanently.

Since many more are born each day than could possibly be trapped and euthanized, the population continues to increase steadily. When a cat is taken out of the area it has been living in, other cats just move in and the process continuesBy leaving sterilized cats in their current location, new unsterilized cats are kept out by the very territorial “home team.” Since the neutered ferals are not reproducing, the long-term effect is to break the cycle and eventually eliminate “feral” cats in favor of loved indoor pet cats with long and cared-for lives.

I understand that it may seem intuitively backward, but it is proven to work over time. We have spent more than 40 years (in our area) practicing trap and kill with an ever-increasing outdoor cat population. Trap-neuter-return has been successful and is practiced in most forward-thinking areas.

I would, of course, encourage anyone who sees a cat suffering from sickness or injury to try to trap it and either get it help or have it euthanized for its own sake. For HOPE’s part, we do not release sick or injured cats back into the population.

Introducing new ideas is often difficult and met with opposition from both feline proponents and opponents, but keeping an open mind and researching the issues can go a long way in helping the population you so obviously care for.


Executive director, HOPE for Animals