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They've Stopped Killing Cats In Evanston: A Personal Rant About TNR


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When residents complain about feral cats, and volunteers offer trap/neuter/return (TNR), that is now the preferred option – by law in Cook County (as long as the TNR is administered by a sanctioned TNR sponsor). However, in Evanston the response by city officials was to trap and kill. Not only were these officials there not adhering to the law, trap and kill simply doesn’t work.

Officials in Los Angeles are dealing with TNR…Bird and wildlife groups are screaming that TNR allows the cats to return to the environment to kill.

Yes, feral cats do kill wildlife – including songbirds. However, why not deal with habitat loss and pollution (light pollution and air pollution) which are responsible for FAR more deaths. And feral cats are a threat to some lizard species as well. However, others cheer when feral cats kill rodents. The fact is (according to real data) cats will take the easiest meal possible, including from garbage cans and handouts. Often birds aren’t even on the menu.

Populations of feral cats spay/neutered diminish in numbers over the years, ultimately disappearing on their own – and humanely.

When officials attempt trap and kill (as Evanston learned), you can’t catch them all….If there are a dozen cats in the colony, even if you catch ten – as long as the two remaining are male and female, within a year the numbers will be back where they were (or higher). In the never ending cycle, animal control may try and try again. This effort does cost taxpayer money and take animal control officials away from other duties. Meanwhile, some cat colonies actually grow in size, over time. And (as Evanston and Los Angeles learned) many in the community become outraged. People don’t want to read that stray cats are being killed.

Also, TNR caretakers – when given the chance – assess the colony…Little kittens and friendly (formerly owned) cats are adopted.

I love birds too, and all animals. And I agree with the bird groups on these statements
– All cats should be indoors, and spay/neutered. If the cats are inside and ‘fixed,’ the problem of outdoor feral cats ultimately goes away.

The feral cats really aren’t a part of the ecosystem, and generally don’t belong.
– While wildlife groups exaggerate concerning the impact of cats on songbirds and other wildlife, I know cats are predators. I don’t want the cats killing these animals. I also don’t want the cats killed, and they are by snakes, birds of prey, coyotes and even alligators. The greatest threat are cars, and even sick people who shoot cats. Outdoor cats even kill some people. That’s right! There are people who die annually attempting to swerve away from cats while driving, and wind up driving off the side of road or hitting a car. CATS BELONG INSIDE!

Allowing cats outside, you’re simply a really rude neighbor, as outdoor cats can wreak havoc on homes with indoor cats (who now spray where outdoor cats go by). Also, those outdoor cats may go to the bathroom in neighbors’ gardens.
(so what happened in Evanston? read more…)

As announced on my WLS Radio show this past Saturday, through the efforts of Jenny Schlueter at Tree House Humane Society and also Alley Cat Allies, Evanston officials have agreed to allow for TNR (as long as Tree House oversees).
 

Sadly, this agreement will not help the cats who were trapped and killed already. A listener who phoned into WLS was right, when she commented that even with her supplementing with food and doing the best she can to TNR the cats, some will die from the elements. Life isn’t always so easy for these cats. It’s a shame they’re out there in the first place. To ignore the problem will only allow it to get worse. Historically, trap and kill has never worked, and now science demonstrates why. So far, TNR is the best, most effective, most humane solution! I dare anyone who can validly argue otherwise. 

 

 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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