Letter to the Editor: The Best Approach for Outdoor Cats

Despite the fact that Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only humane and effective approach for outdoor cat populations, a Sept. 15 letter to the Pulse included several misconceptions about TNR and cats.

First of all, it’s perfectly normal for cats to live outdoors. Only with the invention of kitty litter 70 years ago did it even become practical for cats to live indoors. The truth is that it’s just as natural for cats to live outdoors now as it was in the thousands of years before they became indoor companions.

Outdoor cats are not a public health risk, either. Rabies and toxoplasmosis are often misguidedly used to justify catch-and-kill schemes for community cats, also known as feral cats. But there has not been a single case of a human contracting rabies from a cat in the U.S. in more than 40 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even says that human rabies cases are “rare,” with only one to three cases reported annually. This is a victory for public health, as well as community cats. As for toxoplasmosis, people are far more likely to contract this disease from eating undercooked meat than they are from anything else.

Sticking to the facts, scientific evidence consistently exonerates the domestic cat species of threatening wildlife. Leading biologists, climate scientists, and environmental watchdogs agree that climate change, habitat destruction, and development are the leading causes of species loss. Pinning the blame on cats conveniently ignores the reality that the solutions to species loss rest squarely in our hands.

For those of us who choose to help community cats, Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane approach with a proven record of success. TNR ends the cycle of breeding, stabilizes the population, and helps cats stay healthy through vaccinations. TNR also addresses the public’s needs because it makes life better for the cats and for the residents who live nearby, shelters become less crowded, shelter morale improves, and considerable taxpayers’ dollars are saved.

Thousands of cities and counties across the U.S. conduct TNR programs, and Alley Cat Allies has tracked more than 650 of them that have adopted official TNR policies and ordinances. That number continues to grow because of the success of these programs.

In discussions surrounding community cats, plenty of falsified claims are made by people and groups who want to scare us. They might even say they have cats’ best interest at heart, but when they promote catching and killing community cats, that simply isn’t true. Focusing on the facts is the best way to understand what’s best for cats and what’s best for your community.


Becky Robinson, President and Founder, Alley Cat Allies

Bethesda, Md.

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