Petroglyphs: good news for feral cats
"New Mexico’s Award-Winning Resource Publication for Animal Lovers"
downloadable pdf file: Summer 2006
Good News for Feral Cats
by Nancy Murano
In March 2006, HSUS published a new position statement on
“We continually evaluate our position statements and refine our
policies based on the collective expertise of our professional staff
and new scientific data or evidence provided by outside experts,”
says Nancy Peterson, Feral Cat Program Manager at HSUS. “Over
the last decade, our policies on feral cats have evolved, been revised
The new statement was a welcome surprise to many feral cat
organizations and individual caretakers. It says in part, “The HSUS
advocates community-based Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs
with on-going responsible management as the most viable, longterm
approach available at this time to reduce feral cat
populations….The goal of any feral cat management program should
be to maximize quality of life for the cats and to eliminate the existing
colony over time through attrition.” (Read the Position Statement
and find other resources on feral cats at: www.hsus.org/feralcats.)
“The reasons we think TNR is best today,” says Peterson, “is
because when colonies are ignored, the cats’ nuisance behaviors
continue and there will be more and more kittens. By humanely trapping
a colony, you can check which cats can be removed and adopted.
Kittens less than seven weeks of age can be removed, as can friendly
stray cats who have moved into the colony to survive. This reduces
the population, leaving only the truly feral.”
The position statement further recognizes that feral cat management
is a community affair. “…this statement is meant to encourage
all members of the community – citizens, veterinarians, animal shelters,
wildlife advocates, policy makers, public health departments,
businesses – to work together toward a goal of non-lethal approaches
to feral cat management.”
“We want to encourage shelters to work with feral caretakers in
the community. We need city officials embracing this and providing
more funds for spay and neuter. They also need to exempt feral cat
caretakers from ordinances on feeding bans, pet limit restrictions,
and roaming cat restrictions,” Peterson says.
Feral cat caretakers often feel vilified because they get little or no
support from their communities. They try to do the humane thing for
cats living on the fringe of society and consequently they are classified
as being on the fringe, too. Too often they see their care of a
colony ruined because of a nuisance complaint that causes animal
control to trap the cats and euthanize them.
Times are changing for feral cats and the people who care for them
so diligently. Instead of being relegated to the edges of society and
the city’s back allies, feral cats are grabbing the national spotlight.
With cooperation from all elements of the community feral cat colonies
can be managed to benefit the cats and the community.