Because I am a diabetic cat, I am sensitive to the needs of all my fellow felines who are dealing with difficult situations. Some of them are diabetic cats, some are cats whose humans are taking care of them despite medical conditions that make it a challenge, and some are felines who are recovering from bad injuries.
But my fellow felines with maybe the most difficult challenge are the ones who are feral cats. There are tens of millions of these cats in the United States alone, which means that virtually everyone, regardless of where they live, has a feral colony nearby. Now, some humans are kind to these felines, and feed them. But they don’t know what else to do, so they call the local shelter. Often, according to a human who founded Alley Cat Allies, “the shelter doesn’t know what to do except tell them to get a trap and bring them in.”
Sadly, when this is done, often, the shelter ends up euthanizing the feline. Most cats who go to a shelter (70 percent) end up being euthanized. For feral cats who go to the shelter, it is a near certain death sentence.
This is not only inhumane, but it is expensive. One of the humans in white coats who is part of the ASPCA estimated that it cost one organization $185 per cat to euthanize ferals, and that this nothing to keep the population of ferals under control. Too many organizations are spending a lot of money doing something that is inhumane and does not achieve its goal of keeping the feral population down.
The high cost, in both green paper things and the inhumane treatment of ferals, is why both of the major animal welfare organizations in the United States have teamed up to advocate for trap, neuter, and return (TNR) programs. These programs help keep the feral population in check, and they do it without any euthanizing of healthy felines. And even humans who do not like cats would rather have these programs go in place than have them euthanized.
These programs are not perfect — it is likely that a feral cat who is a diabetic cat like me would be euthanized, for example. But because they are good programs, between one and three million people in the United States manage feral colonies through TNR programs. Many of them got their start by joining the Feral Friends Network. This is a directory of individuals, clinics, and even shelters teaching TNR. They also provide assistance with traps, advice, and low cost neutering.
It is always good to see humans who want to keep the feral cat population down turning to programs like these instead of euthanizing felines. Remember, we felines are good hunters, and we kill many things that you humans do not want around you.