Starving feral cats not good solution

Published 11:22 am Tuesday, May 10, 2016

By Susan Broussard

This letter is in regard to a few recent articles about feral cat overpopulation issues in the area and the idea that adopting feeding bans is a legitimate solution. It is not. There seems to be a war declared against these innocent animals due to a great misunderstanding of them. Irresponsible pet guardians who allow their cats outside or abandon them without being spayed and neutered are the main contributors to the numbers of feral cats. These cats produce many litters of kittens that become feral due to lack of human contact. They spend their lives searching for food to sustain them, shelter from weather, and safety from predators. Instead of our city authorities promoting humane care to homeless animals, they continue to support outdated and cruel policies of trying to starve these cats to death.

First, as Angela Dodson stated in an article on February 17, tame cats are caught in the crossfire. She has valid reason for her concern. People trying to lure feral cats into traps end up trapping pets as well. Tame cats will fight to escape and exhibit aggressive behavior the same as a feral cat as their natural instincts to protect themselves take over. This leaves them at risk of being misjudged by inexperienced handlers including some animal control officers.

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If taken to a shelter these cats will be killed immediately if deemed feral. That is not euthanasia. Euthanasia is using humane methods of ending life for a sick, old, or injured animal with no hope of recovery. These cats are healthy animals that are killed simply because it is still legal. Your city officials in charge of making decisions about animals are not always, in fact are seldom, the right ones to do so. Ordinances or orders of any kind prohibiting the feeding of stray/outside/feral cats are cruel and will not solve the problem (

As individual pet guardians, we must abide by state cruelty laws. Providing food, water, and shelter are a requirement. Why, then, is it legal for city officials to demand we stop feeding cats that have been in our care? Starving an animal to death is cruelty in any situation. This is an ignorant approach and a disregard for life.

Not feeding a feral colony will not make it disappear. The cats will simply become more visible looking for food that had been provided. These cats are not drawn to a particular area because they are being fed by humans. They are already established colonies that have found a source of food (although insufficient) and shelter. Caring people then begin feeding.

Through the TNR (trap, neuter, return) program, which is a proven means of controlling the overpopulation of outside cats, these cats are fed regularly by volunteers. TNR volunteers trap, spay and neuter, and return the cats to their colonies providing food and care, preventing more cats from being born. I have TNR’d many neighborhood cat colonies at the request of the people who feed them in cities all over the Golden Triangle and beyond. This can be done city wide which will eventually make a huge difference in what many city officials perceive as a problem.

Groves Fire Chief Dale Jackson stated in the article feral cats spread diseases to other pets. This is misinformation. Feral cats have no more health issues than pet cats. Their systems have not been compromised by all the vaccinations (other than rabies) and medications pet cats are subjected to. It is highly unlikely pet cats will even come in contact with feral cats unless they have been abandoned or are not being fed regularly. I have extensive experience with feral cats and have been using the TNR program over 15 years. In a managed colony with caretakers, feral cats are monitored for illnesses or injuries and get medical help when needed. They are not left to suffer and die. Mr. Jackson also said the only way to solve the problem of feral cats is to trap them. That would be true only if the cats were to be spayed, neutered, and returned to their colonies with caretakers to provide for them, not trapping to kill. That’s how TNR works. Cats are not pests that should be exterminated.

Another fact to take note of: State cruelty laws protect feral cats as well as tame ones. It is illegal to dump (abandon), kill, poison, torture, or neglect cats, tame or not.

The comment included at the end of the article about TNR along with the so-called facts had no reasoning or truth. That was not research. It was a search to find articles on a subject written by those who object to and want to disprove a program that is saving thousands of lives and reducing shelter kill rates to practically zero in TNR cities. Go to the source of the TNR movement, Alley Cat Allies has successfully helped implement the TNR program in numerous cities nationwide, including Austin and San Antonio.

Most of all go to your city officials and voice your disapproval of their feeding bans for cats and let them know you want to be represented as a compassionate community. Request the TNR program be recognized as a means to help the city control the population of feral cats. Through the TNR program, caretakers would be reducing the numbers of cats and kittens throughout the cities, keeping the shelter intake and kill rate down, and saving taxpayer dollars. For some, the money is important; for the cats, their lives are important.

Susan Broussard

Formerly of Groves, now of Kountze