Dear Tabby 08/27/14
I’m concerned about the feral cat population in my area. Shouldn’t feral cat colonies be removed? Don’t they pose a health risk to humans?
–Perturbed in Pecan Grove
This probably isn’t the answer that you’re wanting to hear, but removing feral cat colonies is rarely in the best interest of the cats or your neighborhood…and here’s why: When a feral cat colony is removed, this creates a “vacuum effect,” wherein feral cats from other areas move into the newly-vacated areas and breed to capacity. Therefore, removing feral cats is typically a futile act.
Studies show that the best way to control the feral cat population in an area is to implement a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. This program traps, neuters and releases the cats so that they may live out their lives without adding to the population. Most feral cats can live 5 to 7 years on their own and provide little-known benefits to the area. For example, feral cats kill other (disease-carrying) harmful animals, such as rats and other rodents. Likewise, they help to maintain the ecosystem, as well as help to increase biodiversity by killing animals that have a higher population, thus making room for other animals that fill the same ecological niche.
Dr. M. Kendrick, director of Health and Human Services of Fort Bend County explains that, “Currently, Fort Bend County regulations and ordinances do not permit trap-neuter-return.” Kendrick adds, “We have received sporadic interest in such a program while most contacts from citizens continue to request removal of feral cats from their area.”
Currently, Fort Bend County traps and immediately euthanizes feral cats, as a rudimentary method of solving the problem. Other cities around the country, who have now implemented the TNR program in place of euthanizing feral cats, have discovered a huge savings in taxpayer funds. According to Catherine Eldredge-Graczyk, manager of Feral Cat Assistance Program, San Diego’s Department of Animal care used to spend $121 per cat to euthanize. Once they initiated the TNR program, they revealed a savings of $859,211 over the course of only 5 years and reduced their euthanasia rate by 45%. Closer to home, San Antonio has reported a tremendous success with their TNR program, now releasing 77% of animals, as opposed to only 29% in 2008/2009.
The good news is that Fort Bend County is exploring the implementation of a TNR program in the area. In the meantime, if you have a feral cat colony that you’d like to help in the most humane way, contact the Citizens for Animal Protection’s Feral Cat Assistance Program at: www.cap4pets.org to learn more.
Have you ever considered fostering a pet? If so, now’s your chance! Fort Bend Animal Services is looking for fosters to prepare for an upcoming mega adoption event. Stop by the office at: 1210 Blume Rd in Rosenberg or call (281) 342-1512 to learn more.
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