TNR the best way Qatar
TNR the best way to deal with stray cats
Letters to the Editor
The Peninsula On-line: Qatar's leading English Daily - May 8, 2006
The Qatar Cat Coalition?s Trap Neuter Return (TNR) Programme supports Qatar?s Public Health by Spaying and Neutering Cats. In your article ?Putting Cats to Sleep with ?humane? touch?, (The Peninsula, April 11, 2006), Dr Al Sharafi, Director of Pest and Rodent Control of the MMAA said that ?cats which will be put to sleep will be the ones who are diseased, noting that the animals can carry over 200 diseases. This statement is based on old ideas and has been proven wrong by contemporary research being conducted around the world. I have worked with feral cats for over 25 years in America and in Qatar. I have also worked with a TNR programme in both countries. For 4 years I conducted a TNR pilot programme at Education City in Doha with the feral or street cats in that area. We trapped the cats, had them spayed or neutered, named and catalogued each of them and tattooed a number in their ear. We also had them vaccinated and returned to the campus, where they were fed and watched over by caretakers. To my knowledge no one on campus caught any diseases from the QCC cat colonies at Education City. And over the 25 years I have worked closely with feral cats handling and feeding them, I have not caught any diseases from them. Very few cats should have to be put to sleep in a TNR programme due to disease. Spaying (females) and neutering (males) improves the cats health by reducing wandering, mating, and fighting. Spayed female cats do not go into heat and howl at night. Neutered male cats do not fight over female cats or spray their territories. Dr Al Sharafi also stated that the cats ?93clearing the medical in a manner of speaking, are neutered then released, possible heading back to their local dumpsters. It is important to note that the initials TNR stand for Trap, Neuter, and return, not release. For this project to work the neutered cats have to be returned to their original neighborhood. If they are released somewhere other than their original home, there could be fighting for territorial habitat and food with the unfixed cats existing there. It will also put the neutered cat at physical risk because he will be crossing streets trying to find his/her way home. It is animal instinct to return to their original neighborhood. It is a common misconception to believe that feral cats pose a health hazard through risk of transmission of diseases. Available evidence indicates this is not true. For example, the 8000 acre campus of Stanford University is home to one of the oldest TNR programmes in the country started in 1989. The Environmental Health & Safety Department of the university, in consultation with the Santa Clara County Health Department, ?determined that there is a general consensus that feral cats pose little health and safety risk to individuals on campus. The Stanford TNR programme continues to the present date, claiming reduction of the feral population from a total of 1500 cats at its beginning to 200 currently.? Cities and universities across America have come to the same conclusion as Stanford University and openly endorse TNR programmes as a public health benefit and cost saving to any community that properly employs it. The street cats in Doha also help resolve the rat problem which is chronic in most urban areas. The usefulness of feral cats in controlling rat populations is well documented. Roger Tabor, in his studies of London street cats, noted that one particularly adept tabby female was recorded as having caught 12,480 rats over a 6 year span. In Pennsylvania?s Longwood Gardens, feral cats? are part of the integrated pest management control programme to protect certain plant life from damage by small rodents. In city environments where food sources such as garbage and rats cannot be permanently removed, ?the feral cat population serves a very useful purpose and should rather be encouraged than fought.? TNR allows the cats to remain in the environment and continue to provide no-cost rat control, while at the same time stemming future population growth and curbing nuisance behavior such as noise and odor. The cat lovers in Qatar ask that the Ministry listen closely to the experience and knowledge of both WSPA and the QCC, as they have the expertise in working with feral cats. It is a complex issue and for it to succeed, we ask that the Ministry use compassion, care and respect in dealing with the street cats of Qatar. Please do not euthanise the cats for the sake of ease and expediency.
QCC Board of Advisors Doha, Qatar firstname.lastname@example.org-Kathleen Franck