What are the health risks of TNR for feral cats? Outdoors is no place for cats, feral or not.  Some people and organizations reject TNR based solely on cruelty. Feral cats live hard lives and do not die the soft deaths from old age that TNR proponents envision (30.).  
Diseases (31. 32. 33.):  
FLV: is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in cats. A cat is infected by contact with contaminated feces, tears, grooming, licking, biting, food and water dishes, and places where cats share sand and litter boxes. Kittens can be infected in the womb and while nursing the infected mother.  A cat can survive the initial infection and become a carrier, spreading the disease to other cats, or it can experience chronic re-infections. Death can be sudden, or lingering and painful.  
URI: Upper respiratory infections are highly contagious and common in felines; young kittens are especially vulnerable. Indications of an URI are sneezing, nasal discharge, lack of appetite. If cats recover, they can be carriers and spread the viruses. Yearly vaccines are available.
FIV: This disease also destroys the cat's immune system. It is spread by cat-to-cat bites and is usually found in un-sterilized roaming males. The cat succumbs eventually, but not before it has suffered chronic infections of the skin, respitory and intestinal tracts, mouth, and eyes, often for many years. No effective vaccine.
FPV:  kills white blood cells, destroying the immune system's ability to fight off disease. Medical treatment is intense. An annual vaccine is available.
FIP:  is a progressive, debilitating, and fatal viral disease. A cat is infected by contact with contaminated feces, tears, grooming, licking, biting, food and water dishes, and places where cats share sand and litter boxes. No cure, no effective vaccine.
Animal attacks:  By dogs, wildlife, and other cats. If a cat lives through an attack, it can sustain torn ears, scratched eyes, abscesses and other injuries requiring expensive veterinary treatment.
Exposure: The last few nights in Columbus, the temperature has been in the low 20s and one night it was 14 degrees. A plastic shelter, for colony cats that have one, may keep off the rain, but won't keep one from freezing. Cats will climb into engine compartments for the warmth and be gravely injured or killed when someone starts the engine.
Trapping: cats can be injured and killed by traps that have been set to catch other animals.
Poisoning: cats find poison from sources like lawns, rat bait, and antifreeze on roads and driveways.
Vehicles: Cats run into streets and are hit by vehicles, which don’t always kill them, but leave them injured, incapacitated,  and in pain.
Human Abuse and cruelty: some humans will burn, stab, shoot, and torture cats (34. 35. 36. 37.).

30. www.nyshumane.org/articles/problemsTNR.htm

31. http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/cats_toxo.pdf

32. www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/conservation_overview.html

33.videos -www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/PSAs.html

34.Dead cats found ‘shot in box’ Richmond, Va. www.wtvr.com/2014/01/17/caretaker-finds-feral-cats-shot-behind-chesterfield-shopping-center/

35. Decapitated cat 6-20-11-Columbus, GA. www.wtvm.com/story/14943429/by-taylor-barnhill-

36. Suffering of cats. www.nyshumane.org/articles/problemsTNR.htm

37. Peta, No-Kill’ Label Slowly Killing Animals.  www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/animal-shelters/kill-label-slowly-killing-animals/

What is a colony caretaker? A colony caretaker is a person who wants to feed cats, registers with a city TNR program and is given free food and other low/no cost medical services. Before the appearance of TNR programs, we called these people hoarders (14.) , now they are caretakers, although they perform the behaviors commonly attributed to owners, such as registering, feeding, sheltering, and giving medical care to their animals.

Columbus colony caretakers receive subsidies for low cost/no cost vet health services, rabies vaccination, micro chipping, and low or no cost sterilization (15.). In Columbus, volume defines who gets subsidies because people who only own one or two cats do not get subsidies or legal protection. If the unsubsidized people add a few more cats to their menagerie, 6 or more in Columbus, they can register as caretakers and be eligible for subsidies to cover the care of the cats. That is not an incentive to own fewer cats and control their movements. It is an incentive to have more cats and let them roam. 

Trapping is not required of caretakers by the Columbus ordinance. The responsibilities of caretakers are to give food and shelter, to pick up sick cats if the cats can be caught, dead cats . . . and nothing else. They are not required to trap cats for sterilization and rabies vaccination. Trapping is referenced as follows: “Adult cats or kittens over the age of twelve weeks that can be captured will be neutered or spayed and vaccinated against rabies” (16).  Cats that can’t be trapped are still fertile and haven’t been given a rabies vaccination. They are beneficiaries of food and shelter and live in the colonies alongside the cats that were trapped, treated, and re-released. There may be 50 cats registered to a caretaker, but the caretaker is actually feeding and sheltering 50+ cats. The uncaught, un-sterilized cats, whose survival and breeding capabilities have been enhanced by food and shelter, will produce kittens, replacing the number of cats that died of old age, injury, vehicles, disease, were removed or killed by unhappy property owners, or were tortured by sadistic people and died as a result of those wounds.

14. hoarding: feeding many strays is the first step to hoarding - www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/11/20/first-step-toward-hoarding-feeding-many-strays.html

15. Save a Pet program Animal Control, page 13 - www.columbusga.org/PublicWorks/Animal_Control/pdfs/acc.pdf

16. Ordinance13-12m Columbus, Ga.

Cat colonies are urban inventions, which means most or all of them either overlap or are close enough for a traveling cat to pay a social visit to a neighboring colony, make some new kittens, have dinner, kill a few birds on the way back home, take a slight detour to bury a package in the sandbox belonging to a five year old, share a second dinner bowl at the homestead with a raccoon that is in the egg shedding phase of Bayliscarius Procyonis (raccoon round worm, highly infectious to humans and domestic animals), then climb into his snug cat shelter at the colony for a good night’s rest.

Sometime later, the cat, horribly disoriented and burning with fever, staggers off into a lonely area and dies in convulsions, his brain infected with Baylis. Perhaps before the sickness overtook him completely, he shed a few Baylis eggs or mature worms in the nearby sandbox belonging to the five year old. Later, TNR supporters notice that the colony is missing one resident and assume, erroneously, that the missing resident died of old age due to TNR. In an indirect way, it did die by way of TNR, but not the kind, quick, soft death of old age proponents envision will happen under TNR.
Many scientific studies show the harm done by TNR vs a few studies that support it.
Most testimony in support of TNR is anecdotal and spread as truth by online cat groups.

How would you like for your neighborhood to look like this?

A few sterilized cats dumped back out on the streets under TNR is not an equal swap for one child blinded by toxoplasmosis from cat feces touched in a sandbox or park. These cats don't produce kittens, but they are producing tons of disease carrying feces, stinking urine, are health risks for humans, other cats and pets,  kill thousands of birds and wild mammals each year, and interfere with the pleasure and use of their property by home owners, residents, and businesses.

Since TNR programs are not going to reduce populatons to a significant degree (19.), one is left with the truth as to why cities want them: TNR reduces a city's eithanasia rate, pleasing the no kill advocates and allowing some people to indulge their desires to feed cats. Cat caretakers, when they register as colony keepers, may cite the approximate number of cats in a colony as they know it to be at a given time, but the don't know for sure how many cats are there because cat colonies are fluid and unstable, colonies are not isolated, all cats will never be trapped, and if a cat disappears from a colony, no one knows what happened to it. Making accurate counts and tracking the number of residents will always be guesswork. For example, if a count was done one day and tne of the residents were having breakfast or dinner somewhere else, those cats would be counted as a reduction, even if they re-appeared the next day. Perhaps they would be picked up on the next count. What is accurate then, if numbers wane and grow?

17. Evaluation of Feral Cat Management - www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss4/art10/

18.Counting Spays/Neuters, Not Cats. www.animalsheltering.org/resources/magazine/nov_dec_2006/counting_cats.pdf


 Humans are infected with many of the diseases and parasites listed above through direct contact with fecal material in soil and water, in litter boxes, by touching their owned roaming cats who have been crawling through sewers or killed an infected animal, and fleas or ticks (49.). An additional element for humans is the emotional cost: cat predation causes, such as burying birds and small mammals cats killed and left in a yard or park; the financial and emotional costs incurred by wildlife rehabilitators who try to save the lives of wildlife that have been mauled by cats but are still hanging onto life, in great pain and fear; and vets who incur costs in treatment or euthanasia of the injured animals.

38. www.documentcloud.org/documents/681002-zoonotic-diseases-associated-with-free-roaming.html 

39. www.researchgate.net/publication/249965373_Rabies_Prevention_and_Management_of_Cats_in_the_Context_of_Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release_Programmes

40. http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/cats_toxo.pdf

41. www.stanleyresearch.org/dnn/LaboratoryofDevelopmentalNeurovirology/ToxoplasmosisSchizophreniaResearch/tabid/172/Default.aspx

42. Scientific American Kitty Kills Dolphins.pdf

43.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23859607


45. send email to: CTJones @dhr.state.ga.u.s

46. Atlanta - www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=303025

47. www.smithsonianscience.org/2011/03/alarming-number-of-fledgling-suburban-catbirds-fall-prey-to-domestic-cats-study-finds/

48. Hawaiian Shore Birds nearly Extinct from Cat Predation. www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/130417a.html 

49. Feral cats, health, management, wildlife predation,Univ of Nebraska, www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/ec1781/build/ec1781.pdf

TNR FactCheck.org

The Feral Cat Program

Columbus, Georgia

Video: Woman feeding feral cats contracts Toxoplasmosis and miscarries 3 times in 1 year.

Claim - Supporters of TNR assert that managed colonies slowly shrink through attrition.  Mathematical models of feral cat populations indicate that 71–94% of a population must be neutered for the population to decline, assuming there is no immigration (Andersen et al. 2004; Foley et al. 2005). This level of neutering and exclusion of additional cats has not been consistently documented in practice. A study of TNR implemented countywide in San Diego showed that feral cat populations had not decreased after 10 years, and a similar result was found after 7 years in Alachua County, Florida, where feral cat populations increased (Foley et al. 2005). Four years of TNR at a colony in London saw the population fluctuate between 19 and 17 with no indication of further decline (Neville 1989). Two colonies subject to TNR in Florida were tracked for over a year and population size of both colonies increased" (Castillo &Clarke 2003").   www.urbanwildlands.org/Resources/2009LongcoreetalConBio.pdf

A Reality for cats under TNR.

 Cute Little killers with soft coats: Not all cats in TNR colonies will ever be trapped for any reason, including sterilization, even if the keeper tries to trap them.
What is TNR? The letters TNR represent a program in which feral cats are trapped, neutered, and re-released. Proponents claim that TNR leads to extinction of feral cat colonies or reduction to low numbers; they also claim that densities of cats (called colonies) do not promote health issues for humans or domestic animals (1. 2.). Other claims are that cats are not vectors for disease, do not pollute, do not predate wildlife species in any significant way, and do not hunt unless they are hungry (3. 4. 5.). Scientific evidence, experience, and observation dispute these claims. TNR is pushed by proponents as the one solution to burgeoning feral cat populations by people with two primary agendas: to have feral cats declared protected wildlife, and to ensure that all cats can free roam, despite the problems they cause and the dangers and cruelty to the cats themselves. People who oppose euthanasia for any reason usually support TNR programs, without regard for the consequences of their decision.

TNR is a polarizing issue (6. 7.) because support and opposition to TNR involve personal beliefs, values, preferences, and choices, and controversial because there is not definitive scientific evidence that a TNR program does what proponents claim it does (6.). Two studies often cited by proponents as supporting TNR, concluded that TNR programs could result in small reductions that take place over 12 to 30 years, buy that some cat colonies and populations are maintained indefinitely using TNR methods (8.). Scientific studies expose the damage feral and owned free roaming cats do to health, environment, wildlife, and the drain on resources (9.).  A few city ordinances, such as the Columbus ordinance, passed to protect TNR programs, infringe on property rights by giving colony caretakers legal protection from liability by declaring them non-owners and infringing on property owners rights to the pleasure and use of their property as they determine it should be.

Many people who support TNR do so because it seems like an easy answer with a predictable outcome; it is neither easy nor predictable. There are too many variables to say definitively that TNR programs work all the time in all locations and for all people. On the surface, it seems credible. When a person scratches the surface and examines the inner workings of a TNR program, its influences on a whole community, and its many variations, doubt can creep in about how effective TNR programs actually are at eliminating feral cat populations. TNR programs create even  more damage when they are mismanaged and enacted to protect feral cat populations instead of removing them. TNR is a zero euthanasia and maintenance program.

1. "Oocytes at the Human-Animal-Environmental Interface"www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC377978/pdf/nihms507392.pdf
4. Feral cats, health, management, wildlife predation, Univ of Nebraska, www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/ec1781/build/ec1781.pdf
Why does the objective a city sets for a TNR program matter? TNR programs are maintenance programs if the city objective for the program is zero euthanasia instead of population zero; this is not a cloudy issue, it is truly one or the other because these two objectives promote different outcomes (, 20. 21). A zero euthanasia maintenance program means perpetual care of feral cats (22. 23.) A zero euthanasia maintenance program will have an ordinance that contains emotional language and intent, such as the one in Columbus that redefines feral cats as community owned cats, created by all people in the community, therefore owned by all people in a community, regardless of the fact that all people in the community did not make, or cause to be made, any feral cats. It reduces the work load of a city Animal Control when a city gives control and administration of the program to a non-profit animal shelter. A program is a zero euthanasia, maintenance program if the city ordinance is written to protect feral cats and their caretakers from legal consequences for damage to property and person, and the program is established, managed, and regulated to prevent euthanasia except in dire situations. Euthanasia has to remain on the table as a control measure.
In Columbus, instead of overseeing the program itself, the city animal control agency gave management of the program to the non profit group, Animal SOS, that has a preference toward feral cats being declared protected wildlife and is not required to reveal any records under an FOIA request. According to the Chief of Animal Control, there are no standards or requirements for the records this group maintains, except the names of caretakers, the locations of colonies, and vaccination records. Animal Control accepts that the records the managing group does give are accurate and truthful; there are no checks and balances as is the usual procedure for government agencies. What is wrong with that picture?

TNR is a maintenance program when feral cats that are trapped by irate property owners, do not belong to a registered colony, are re-released back to the streets, and new cat colonies are established in areas where there have never been colonies. The organization that Animal Control appointed to implement the TNR program is advertising for new colony caretakers. On the group’s blog page is the following: “ For the city’s program to be successful, we need the public’s support. This includes caregivers feeding and looking after free-roaming cats, and private citizens and businesses willing to establish new colonies. “  New colonies mean feral cats will be spread all over the city, including areas that may not now, nor ever had, feral cats.  As an example of spreading new colonies is the story a woman told me recently about a conversation she had with another woman at animal control.  She began talking to another woman who, when she learned the first woman owned ten acres in Talbot County, asked if she would consider allowing a colony to be established on her land. She declined the offer. She is not fond of feral cats, especially since a cat scratched her son, causing cat scratch fever. The woman who wanted to establish a new colony on this land knew it was in another county, so she would have moved Muscogee County, Columbus cats to another county, creating a problem for that country to deal with.

In Columbus, this zero euthanasia maintenance program was pushed through behind government scenery, without public input, with no mention or discussion of oppositional literature that exposes the risks to health, wildlife, and property. Had government and non-government people known about the problems with TNR, the program may not have passed. TNR has been presented as THE answer to feral cat control. Finally, when a city objective is zero euthanasia, there are no incentives to reach population zero.

That the objective of the TNR program in Columbus is to reduce euthanasia rates is not a matter of speculation: it is clearly cited in the Animal Control Save A Pet Guide, recorded in city council and animal control minutes, city videos, and stated in news articles by city personnel, including the Chief of Animal Control and the Director of Public Works. Here is one example taken from the city council meeting on 11/22/11 in which Drayle Short, Chief of Animal Control comments on TNR, apparently quite vehemently, as judged from the capital letters and explanation points recorded by the city clerk: “THIS IS THE KEY TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCING EUTHANASIA!!” In a Ledger Enquirer news article dated 10/19/13, amid other inaccurate and mis-leading statements about TNR programs, Short says: “the goal of TNR is to put cats back in the colony and not in the shelter.” In that same news article, Mayor Tomlinson says:  ". . . in 2011, the overall euthanasia rate at Animal Care and Control was 8o percent, and has since fallen to 41 percent, and dropping”. Not a word spoken about eliminating feral cat populations.

20. http://www.tnrrealitycheck.com/basicInfo.asp 

21. Foley -javma_227_11_1775  

22. American Bird Conservancy -The_Science_of_Feral_Cats

23. Gilliam, Colin, DVM, President of the American Assoc of Wildlife Vets. "cat conundrum" , Wildlife Professional, Spring 2011.

Can the effects of a TNR program be tracked? Attributing colony reductions to TNR is problematic. Unless a colony is isolated, there is not way to track how or why residents disappear (24). Immigration to other colonies, death by vehicles, predation, disease, cold weather, human cruelty, and removal and disposal by property owners are all reasons residents disappear. Colony isolation is the only way to track if a TNR program has reduced to population of a colony. Isolation would also produce dependable figures on how many years it takes a TNR program to reduce a colony to zero, or if it does at all. The problem with isolation is it is not a real world scenario, so statistics gathered in isolation cannot be applied to other situations. The only influence on reducing colony numbers is sterilization and numbers of cats sterilized is what is counted, not absent cats (25). Additionally the chance of tracking numbers is reduced that much more when a city does not keep or require records. Drayle Short, Chief of Animal Control, confirmed this when she told me the only records kept are how many vouchers veterinarians submit for sterilization payment.

24. www.animalsheltering.org/resources/magazine/nov_dec_2006/counting_cats.pdf 


Is TNR less expensive than TE, as advocates claim?TE is short for Trap-Euthanasia. The following two graphs demonstrate what the cost is to euthanized a 65 cat colony vs feeding the cats in a colony under TNR, and how many pounds of food per year are required to feed a 65 cat colony:                                 
Columbus, 3/10/14 - Cat Found Dead in Concrete Culvert. Not the rosey, peaceful death from old age that TNR advocates describe. This is a real life example of what cats endure when they are abandoned to life on the streets.

What is the Environmental Impact of Feral Cats on Rivers and Marshes?

This affects us right here, right now,  in the Chattachoochee Valley. It is not an impact a world away. Click the link below to view three excellent video clips on the far reaching impact of feral cats on our river and creeks :

the Environmental Impact of Feral Cats on Rivers and Marshes

Who do TNR programs benefit and Hurt?


    Animal control agencies that are pressured to reduce or eliminate euthanasia rates
    City council members who vote for TNR. Voting for TNR does not require effort or study, and some councilors who fear retribution in the voting booth if they do not.
    Emotional thinkers who make decisions without regard to the consequences of their choices
    Cat fanatics who want cats declared protected wildlife
    People who confuse feral cats with pet cats
    No Kill advocates
    Hoarders (redefined as colony caretakers) who are compelled to feed large numbers of roaming cats
    Cat food producers and suppliers who profit from the increased demand for cat food resulting from TNR programs, like Petsmart and its subgroup, Petsmart Charities, which gives high dollar awards to cities for implementing TNR programs (50.)


    Wild Birds (estimates are between 1.7 and 3.8 BILLION per year and small mammals (up to 20 BILLION per year); some species of birds are being driven to extinction by cat predation (51.)
    Feral and roaming cats who are killed or injured by cars, diseases, and human cruelty (52.)
    Humans and pets infected by cat parasites and diseases (53.)
    Environment  – water supplies and land polluted from the runoff of cat urine and feces (54)
    Commercial property owners and businesses (55. - 60.)
    Neighborhood residents and homeowners whose right to the use and pleasure of their property has been restricted by TNR (55. - 60)
    People who want fair laws that govern equitably and less government regulation in their lives
    People who have stopped attracting birds to their yards because they are tired of burying birds’ legs and squirrel tails
    People whose cars are damaged by feral cats and who are forced to endure the odor of cat urine pervading the air around their homes. (55. - 60)

50. www.hahf.org/wp-content/uploads/TNR-assessment-of-claims.pdf

51. www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/Loss_et_al_2013.pdf

52. www.nyshumane.org/articles/problemsTNR.htm

53.  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/681002-zoonotic-diseases-associated-with-free-roaming.html

54. http://www.stanleyresearch.org/dnn/LaboratoryofDevelopmentalNeurovirology/ToxoplasmosisSchizophreniaResearch/tabid/172/Default.aspx

55. www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/755265/feral-cats-torontos-trap-neuter-return-policy-draws-hisses/

56. www.bradenton.com/2014/01/01/4914470/fur-flies-in-cat-spat-at-manatees.html

57. www.bradenton.com/2014/01/01/4914470/fur-flies-in-cat-spat-at-manatees.html

58. www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/06/02/2528601/ledger-inquirer-grant-may-help.html

59. Vets form group to oppose TNR -  http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Veterinary+news/Failed-TNR-legislation-in-Fla-prompts-tense-debate/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/813071

60. http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2013/07/pompano_beach_feral_cat_law_florida.php

What is TE?TE is short for Trap Euthanize. TE is very effective at permanently removing feral cats from an environment  (61.) and is a more humane solution than is to abandon cats by re-releasing them (62.). My own experience is an anecdotal example of how effective and fast TE can be at eliminating a feral cat colony. In a two-year period, I trapped 48 feral cats in my yard, some of which were pregnant) and delivered them to animal control for euthanasia. In the intervening eleven years, there have not been any feral cats in my neighborhood. Suddenly, three appeared in my yard, stalking birds and small wildlife. I trapped one and took it to animal control as I did eleven years ago. It was then that I found out about the TNR program.

In some cases, after TE eliminates a colony, new cats will move in, particularly if someone puts out food; if that happens TE has to be repeated, but repeated trapping is also part of TNR programs. TNR trapping is ongoing to catch immigrants, kittens born to un-trapped colony cats, update rabies vaccinations, and to catch injured and sick cats. Additionally, the problems and costs created by TNR cats will continue indefinitely, whereas with TE the problems ended with the trapping. Either method requires management as an ongoing measure (63.). If a city’s objective is zero population and it puts as much energy into seeking people to trap for euthanasia as it does in seeking people to maintain cat colonies, city-wide feral cat populations would be greatly reduced or eliminated in a fairly short time period, certainly less than the 30 years some studies have noted. TE is humane and can reduce citywide feral cat populations very quickly when it is managed intensely (64.). TE is effective because no money is invested in food, sterilization, or vaccinations, there are no health risks for humans or pets, no wildlife predation, and property rights are preserved. It just makes sense. Feral cats are not warm, fuzzy, and gentle, nor are they pets.

61.  www.twri.tamu.edu/media/256834/evaluation_of_euthanasia_and_trap_neuter_return__tnr__programs_in_managing_free-roaming_cat_populations.pdf

62. www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/companion-animals-factsheets/euthanasia-compassionate-option/

63. www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_225_12_1871.pdf

64. www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss4/art10/

What can a property owner legally do to protect his or her property?

Not very much!  In Columbus, a property owner or resident has two options to protect his or her property from feral and roaming cats:

1. Deterrents:  Water Jets, advise TNR advocates, with a straight face and a shrug of the shoulders. Even they know that is ridiculous.  Who is going to pay that water bill? Not the city, nor the cat feeders. What about water restrictions?  Under restrictions, yards can only be watered a couple of hours a day a couple of days a week.  How effective is that? No water, cats will roam.  Even when water is feeding those jets, it will not reach all areas of a yard, can erode soil, damage cars and buildings; prevent the property owner from using his or her property. Water will prevent birds or other wildlife coming to the yard, and water jets will not keep the interior of a garage,  a porch, or a vehicle from reeking of cat urine.

2. Trap the cat: The property owner or resident can legally trap a cat in his or her yard and take it to animal control. He or she can request that the cat is not released back into that neighborhood.  That doesn't assure the cat won't be returned. Perhaps ACC returns it there anyway (It is abandonment by proxy when ACC gives a cat to the group appointed to administer the TNR program. That appointment enables ACC to circumvent local and state laws against abandonment.), and it will surely go back if the colony feeder takes it. What if the cat belonging to that colony feeder is not returned to that colony? It will be released in another colony, a newly formed colony, set free in a park or on other city owned property.   If it is not returned to the original cat owner, will the disappearance of one body from that colony then be recorded as a reduction in that colony and a symbol for TNR success when it is not? Are there any records showing colony reduction or growth? Not according the Drayle Short, who told me during an interview with her, that there aren’t other records kept to track colony numbers.  Wherever the cat is re-released, it becomes a headache for a different resident, and does not reflect a reduction, although it might be counted as a reduction in its former colony, if that count is kept. This example shows how TNR reduction numbers can be manipulated, mis-read, and mis-recorded.

 What is the difference between colony and city populations of feral cats? Cats live in cities, but not all cats live in colonies. TNR programs focus on colony residents, not citywide feral cat populations. In Columbus, the Chief of Animal Control estimated that the number of feral cats is 100,000. In October, the figures cited were 100 registered colonies. If that is a close estimate and all cats were in colonies, there would be 1000 cats in each colony, an impossible number to support. Understanding the difference between populations in a colony and overall populations is important because it shows how weak TNR programs actually are at reducing or even stabilizing citywide feral cat populations (17. 18.), and it shows the intent is to support cats, not reduce their populations.  The following chart graphically demonstrates the differences between colony and city populations, and shows how TNR programs do not effect citywide populations:


 published March, 2014      original text and drawings copyright February 1,  2014       TNRFactCheck.org

   This Page: TNR handbook

What is a feral cat, and what is a feral cat colony?With the intent to protect their granaries, the ancient Egyptians selectively bred wild cats to create domestic cats that are docile to humans, yet relentless killers of small mammals. Whether feral or owned, cats have not lost that killer instinct and will kill for fun, even when well fed, acts to which wildlife rehabilitators can testify as well as cat owners whose cats have dropped a dead or suffering ‘gift’ at their feet. Kitty Cams (10. 11.) are visually debunking the claims of proponents that feral cats and privately owned roaming cats do not kill unless they are hungry.

Feral cats are the offspring of domestic cats that were abandoned by humans and they behave wild. This wild behavior does not make them wildlife. Wildlife is genetically wild, not created nor changed by humans. To make this comparison more vivid:  cattle were created by selective breeding from wild stock for the purpose of work, clothing, and consumption, but even when cattle act wild, no one considers them wildlife.

A feral cat is not a pet cat. Don't confuse the two. TNR proponents characterize feral cats as pets to confuse the issue in an effort to change public perception of feral cats. As a further step to accomplish that, some cat groups and TNR ordinances, such as the Columbus, Ga. ordinance, redefine feral cats as “community cats”,  cats that were created by everybody in a community, belong to the whole community, and therefore deserve community protection. This just isn’t true. Not every person, or even the majority of people in a community, has been responsible for making feral cats. The people who have created feral cats are people who have failed in their responsibility to sterilize their cats and restrict their movements. Often they have abandoned their cats when the cats were no longer wanted. Some people will use colonies as dumping grounds for unwanted cats because they think the cat will be fed and sheltered, which will increase colony numbers. Abandoned, un-sterilized cats produce more cats. TNR programs can’t sterilize enough cats quickly enough to offset kitten production. Since one of the characteristics of all TNR programs is that caretakers feed feral cats, the chances that fertile cats will live and produce healthier kittens who then live and produce more kittens, is greatly improved. Since it is unlikely that people will stop abandoning cats, and many abandoned cats are fertile, it is unlikely that TNR programs will be effective at eliminating feral cats (12.)  TNR programs can end up growing more cats than they remove (13). The long-term survival of feral cats is enhanced by food, shelter, and medical treatment.

10. Kitties Attack | Video - ABC News - abcnews.go.com/2020/video/kitties-attack-17188507

11. Kitty Cam: University Of Georgia Research Shows Cats Spend Their Nights Killing Small Animals - www.kittycams.uga.edu/ 
12. Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by TNR  - www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/Management_claims_feral_cats.pdf
13. the impact of TNR programs on populations of feral catsFoley -javma_227_11_1775
The 2.29 euthanasia figure was cited in an analysis done at an control unit in North Carolina (26.). The report showed the complete breakdown of all the expenses incurred by the unit in a euthanasia event.  In the graphs above, the same numbers of cats were trapped under both TNR and TE, but the cost stops under TE after one trapping, whereas the costs under TNR continue indefinitely.  “Managed cat colonies are often claimed to be the cheapest form of control for areas with feral cats. In Akron, Ohio, nearly 2,500 cats were trapped from public parks. Of these, approximately 500 were adopted while the remaining 2,000 feral, diseased, or injured cats were euthanized. The entire project cost less than $27,000. At the costs paid by Maddie’s Fund in California ($50/neuter, $70/spay), sterilizing just 500 cats would cost approximately $30,000, in addition to the costs of trapping, euthanasia for the sick or injured, and subsequent feeding of all the rest” (27.). City agencies say that some of the food is provided by rescue agencies and donations. That may be, but the cost remains, no matter who is footing the bill. Cats in colonies under TNR must be trapped several times during their lifetimes for rabies vaccinations, if they can be caught a second or third time, so the cost is actually more than what the graph shows. 

If only 6,500 cats under a TNR program are consuming 1,233,000 pounds of kibble per year at the cost of 521,950 dollars, and over a 5 year period, the cost for that 6500 cats is 1,233,700 dollars, just think what the cost would be for hundreds of thousands of feral cats fed under TNR programs nationally. It is easy to figure out who benefits from the sale of millions of pounds of kibble per year: pet food manufacturers and pet food suppliers, like Petsmart (28). It is also easy to figure out why Petsmart Charities awards grants to cities that implement TNR programs!  TNR programs are very kind to corporate pocketbooks, not so much to feral cats.

28.Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by TNR - http://www.hahf.org/wp-content/uploads/TNR-assessment-of-claims.pdf

Is a TNR program an effective stand-alone program?  TNR programs are not effective in isolation. If enacted at all, a TNR program should only be one aspect of diverse programming that includes cat restraint laws, penalties for cat abandonment, requirements and incentives for sterilization, registered cat breeders excepted, penalties for feeding feral cats, and low cost/no cost spay-neuter programs based on income (29).  When TNR is enacted as a stand-alone program, it is essentially a maintenance program for colonies that lowers euthanasia rates, but does not address the citywide feral cat population.
Some important effects of cat restraint laws are to reduce kitten production, reduce wildlife predation, make cat owners control their animals’ movements, and protect property rights by giving property owners legal recourse to unwanted cats in their yards and the damage those cats do. It would be inconceivable to most people now to allow dogs to roam free, no matter how much a dog wants to do that. There was much furor when dog restraint laws were enacted, and there would be the same furor over enacting cat restraint laws, particularly if there was a sterilization requirement. Eventually, as was the case with dogs, people would accept the rightness of cat restraint and comply. In some cases, again, not Columbus, cat restraint is already in animal codes or covered under nuisance and abandonment restrictions. It is then up to the animal control agency to enforce those laws.

Cat restraint laws also protect the health and well being of owned cats by preventing contact with disease, being struck by vehicles, killed or injured by other animals, stolen, injured, or killed by a person who doesn’t want someone else’s cat in his or her yard, and even suffering at the hands of sadistic people.

29. www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/Resolution.PDF

What are the health risks feral cats pose for humans and wildlife?Greater densities of cats, as in colonies, create a greater opportunity for disease transmission (38. 39. 40.).
Toxoplasma Gondii
This is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestines of cats. It can cause human mis-carriages, fetal blindness, retardation and seizures in the newborn, and may cause behavioral changes and Alzheimer's. Cats and humans can be infected by Toxoplasmosis by consuming unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, contaminated water, soil or sandboxes contaminated with cat feces, flies, rodents, earthworms, and litter boxes of infected cats. In 1995, British Columbia, 110 people were infected with Toxoplasma from the runoff of feral cat feces that entered the drinking water supply  (41.). The organism only completes its life cycle in cats A study published by Scientific American in May 2013 reveals a connection between Toxoplasma Gondii, carried by cats, and the sickening of dolphins and other sea mammals  (42.).
TNR proponents deny that feral cat populations are a rabies health risk.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cats are the domestic animal most commonly found to be rabid (43.) . WRCBtv, Chattanooga, Tennessee, in an article dated January 1, 2014, described that two people were bitten by a rabid cat in Murray County, located on the western edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. They had to endure post exposure injections (44.).  According to Todd Jones, Savannah Environmental and Health Director. this year, in a Savannah, Georgia suburb, there were two instances of rabies in feral cats. Four people were exposed and had to take the post exposure vaccine (45.). An Atlanta TV news station related findings at the CDC of rabies spread by cats as the current vector for transmitting rabies to humans (46.). 300 people in the US had to receive post exposure vaccinations in 2009 due to cat bites or scratches. On a video of a city council meeting in February 2013, I saw Pat Biegler, the Director of Public Works in Columbus, firmly deny to a city councilor that there are any health risks surrounding TNR programs. Her counterpart, Todd Jones, the Public Health Director in Savannah, was suspicious about the claims of TNR proponents, did some research, and came up with the science. Does Ms. Beigler not have internet access? Is it worth the risk just so some people can satisfy their desire to feed cats?
Cats can become infected from fleabites or eating small mammals infected with plague. People can become infected by a fleabite or by the secretions and scratches of an infected cat.  In recent years, almost all human cases of plague have been linked to cats.
Cat Scratch Disease:

Fleas transmit the Bartonella bacterium from cat to cat. Over 90% of human cases are associated to bites or scratches from a cat. Although it can affect people of all ages, children fewer than ten are the most frequently affected.  Cats typically don't show symptoms.
Roundworms reside in the intestinal tract of cats, other domestic animals, and wildlife. Cats contract it by eating infected wildlife and female cats can pass the larva to their kittens before birth or through nursing. Cats infected with roundworms contaminate their surroundings by passing eggs or larvae in their feces. People are
infected by direct contact with the feces or accidental ingestion of contaminated soil, sand, or plants. When ingested, the eggs become larvae in the body and then migrate through the liver, lungs, and other organs. Roundworms are viable in the soil for lengthy periods of time.
Hookworm larvae are contracted through wet sand or soil where a cat had previously been, such as crawl spaces under homes. They live in a cat's digestive tract and can infect human skin, causing lesions. The worms can remain alive and travel under the skin for several months.
Risks to Wildlife:
The diseases and parasites listed infect wildlife through contact with cats at feeding stations and fecal contamination. Estimates of birds destroyed per year are between 1.7 and 3.8 BILLION birds, and between 10 and 20 BILLION small mammals (47.).  Some bird species are going extinct from cat predation, such as two shorebirds on Hawaiian beaches (48). In backyards and parks, cats attack eggs, kill hatchlings and adults, and cause the death of baby birds left parentless in the nest. Generations of birds and small mammals are wiped out. Feral and free-roaming cats have a competitive advantage over native wildlife such as skunks, opossums, raccoons, and fox because humans enhance the survival of feral cats by food and shelter. Unlike wildlife, cats kill for fun, often leaving the bodies to rot.