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Hissy Fits

Cats a Part of Community

OVER THE PAST 20 years, communities across the United States have become more educated and active with regard to helping their community cats — those unowned by anyone but typically living in a colony. For the majority of them, life is good, as long as we don’t incarcerate them in a shelter and kill them. Supporting community cats and helping to reduce their populations humanely through Trap Neuter Return efforts has proven to be highly successful in communities across America. Read a short history at: www.kansas.com/2009/10/10/1006625/feral-cats-have-long-history.html

Why should we return them after we trap and sterilize them? It is their home and the cats are part of our community, especially when a colony has existed for 14 years in a location. For those of you more fiscally minded, you may be interested to view audited studies of TNR programs specific to Albuquerque and nearby communities at: www.newmexicopetsalive.org/blog/sound-policies-for-new-mexico-s-community-cat-populations-is-needed

Thank you to the volunteers and groups working to deliver those humane TNR solutions. As the saying goes, if it weren’t for our community cats, we’d be overrun by rats.

MELISSA ROBERTS

Executive Director, New Mexico Pets Alive!

Albuquerque

TNR Clearly Isn’t Working

I DON’T LIKE the idea of euthanizing hundreds of feral cats, but the Trap, Neuter, Return philosophy just doesn’t make sense. In fact, the justification given for TNR is self-contradictory.

We are told that TNR “stabilizes” the population, but that if cats are removed, others will take their place. Clearly, there is always an influx of more cats. If the first cats stay, where do these others go? Are there some “Maximum Occupancy” signs that all cats respect? If more cats are abandoned, run off or reproduce in the “wild,” might they not set up yet another population separate from existing colonies?

The trouble is that these are not truly “wild” cats. If they lived in the wild, as with other wildlife, populations would certainly stabilize based on available resources. These feral cats are not dependent on natural food sources, they are fed by humans, and the places they congregate become attractive for that reason.

It wouldn’t be such a problem if the humans involved were just kind souls, like the folks who feed the pigeons. There are several animal welfare/rescue groups who go beyond TNR and support the feral cats on a larger scale. We can’t stop everyone from feeding “strays” or allowing their cats to run loose, but the actions of the welfare/rescue groups sends the message that supporting groups of feral animals — with the attendant problems they cause — is a good thing.

I agree that the wholesale killing of unwanted animals is not a desirable solution, but there must be a better way.

BRIAN LEAVY

Albuquerque

TNR Is Right Choice for ABQ

TNR does work. Please go to www. alleycats.org for more info on TNR. It is inhumane to trap them and kill them. More will move into the area and there will be more cats than before, as the unfixed ones will breed. There will always be feeders, so the ones who move in and are not fixed will produce more kittens.

We appreciated the mayor on TV with Lucky Paws and we will appreciate his support with TNR for Albuquerque. Best Friends from Utah will help our city shelter with TNR and that will get the number of cats of Albuquerque under control. Look for the left ear clipped off, and you know that cat is fixed and will not breed. Just feed and leave them alone and all will be well.

MARILYN HEYWARD

Sandia Park

Making Some Feline Friends

IN EARLY 2010 some feral cats moved into the yard next door and were duking it out for territory and mating opportunities. The situation was both noisy and distressing, and we lost a lot of sleep. A female subsequently had a litter of kittens.

In attempting to solve this problem, we learned about the TNR program offered by Animal Humane N.M. and N.M. Animal Friends. With their help, we trapped, neutered and returned three cats to their chosen home, and it has been a highly successful and gratifying experience. … I am a firm believer now that it is the only sure way to manage this difficult problem.

Since neutering the three cats in our alley, we rarely hear fights, there are no more kittens, and we even get to enjoy watching our new friends living their new life. We see them chase off intruders from time to time, stalk and catch mice and lounge on the walls around our yard. One has even become friendly enough to pet. We’re hoping one day she will be able to move into our house.

As for her litter of kittens, we invested a great deal of time in feeding and socializing the kittens and placing them in responsible homes. They have all been spayed or neutered, as has the mother.

As this program gains recognition, I hope other residents of Albuquerque and New Mexico will turn to this solution to any nuisance cat problems and gradually and humanely reduce feral cat populations. I also hope the city’s Animal Welfare Department will employ this method of cat control, since it seems to work so well and could save taxpayer dollars.

BEVERLY HILL

Albuquerque

Killing Simply Not Humane

IT’S TOO BAD the Journal used a picture of the scruffiest cat their reporter saw for the article on feral cats, instead of one of the numerous elegant, sleek, healthy feral cats who hang around my yard. … If any of them were sick and matted, I’d trap them and take them to the vet.

When I moved to Albuquerque several years ago, the house I rented came with a colony of feral cats. They were sick, fighting, spraying and dropping kittens with respiratory infections all over the neighborhood. I trapped, neutered and vaccinated all of the cats, put them back and now I look after them. All of those problems disappeared, without removing or killing any cats. My experience doing TNR has been 100 percent positive, and I can’t say enough about how effective TNR is at controlling overpopulation. …

Far from living a hard, miserable life, the cats at my place are fed daily, they have fresh water, they have a safe, fenced backyard, and I have purpose-built, weatherproof, insulated kitty shelters. Ditto for the cats at the other nearby colony I help care for. No homeless kittens have been born on my block for a long time, though new cats do turn up from time to time. I trap and sterilize these newcomers as soon as they arrive. …

I’d rather have healthy feral cats around than rodents that potentially carry plague and Hantavirus. I’ve had a couple of people complain about cats pooping in their flower beds and such, and I refer them to the Contech Scarecrow, a devilishly clever device combining a motion detector and garden sprinkler. It’s cheap and works like a charm.

Aside from being cruel, unethical and ineffective, removing feral cats by killing them is obscenely expensive. When homeless cats are brought into the city shelters, they must be held for several days to see if an owner turns up, then euthanized and disposed of. The cost to Albuquerque taxpayers is as much as $300 per cat when all overhead and administrative costs are included. By contrast, the cost to TNR a cat is around $18, which is typically covered by grants and donations to the nonprofit organizations that perform this service. Most of the labor is handled by volunteers like me. I can think of many things I’d rather the city spent my tax dollars on than slaughtering homeless animals. …

There is a small minority of supposed animal advocates who believe if animals can’t be kept “safe,”kept in shelters or little cages, then they’re better off dead. … This is akin to the mindset of hoarders, who are obsessed with keeping animals “safe” and “controlled,” even if they keep them in dreadful conditions. …

In an ideal world … all owners would be responsible and never allow (un-neutered) cats to roam and never abandon un-neutered pets. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world, so we have to do the best we can to control the population of feral cats. Killing them is not the best we can do. The best approach is Trap Neuter Return. It’s humane, ethical, inexpensive and highly effective.

KIFF LABAR-SHELTON

Albuquerque

We Can All Live Together

OUR COMMUNITY is so lucky to have the feral cat spay neuter program. This program is a true leader; especially for a city our size in the United States. New Mexico’s pet overpopulation is horrific. People who pay attention to our state’s statistics know the sadness for many of those who end up in our shelters. Doing what we can as a community everyday will make a difference. It is unfair to give up on the homeless cats that bless our streets and live their lives here in Albuquerque.

I personally have trapped, neutered/spayed and released the cats that live on the property where I work. These cats live their lives out here, causing no harm to the property or the humans who are lucky to see them as the sun is setting when we are going home after a hard day’s work.

There is always a better solution than euthanizing animals, and the feral cat program is it. After feral cat colonies are altered, their populations remain stagnant and fewer feral kittens are brought into our shelters. Shelters that are already too full.

Spread the word, burqueños, and help your neighbors TNR feral cats. Over time they will be deemed less of a nuisance and we can feel good about our humane ways of handling a social problem.

CYNTHIA PATULSKI

Rio Rancho

We Needn’t Be Irresponsible

… I OWN SIX rental units in the Downtown and university areas. When I bought the properties, there were feral cats in both neighborhoods. I trapped them, had them sterilized and returned them to the neighborhoods. The colonies have been stable for the past 10 years, although they have grown smaller through attrition.

Irresponsible and uncaring people were the cause of the feral cats in these neighborhoods. People failed to sterilize their pet cats and let them wander. They left cats behind when they moved away. Breeding can quickly lead to cats that are born outdoors, a new generation of lifelong ferals.

I ask tenants to show me proof that their cats have been sterilized. This would be a good policy for all landlords and property managers. Combined with TNR, this would help get cat populations under control.

I noticed that the huge photo with your article showed a cat that is not ear-tipped and is clearly not a part of a TNR colony. The cat in your photo is from an apartment complex where cats have been allowed to breed out of control for at least 14 years. The nearby colony at Winrock apparently has only about a dozen cats, due to TNR, providing a good demonstration of the effectiveness of TNR as compared to the results of ignorance and neglect at the apartments.

LU SAGE

Albuquerque

Let’s Show We’re Smarter

I AM SO glad a Trap Neuter Return article was posted on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal! It is such a hot topic to get the cat population under control! I, personally, am very happy there are groups that do this sort of work for the community cats! Their programs are amazing and very well organized.

If only more people would be concerned for the animals and their breeding, we wouldn’t be in such a situation we’re in now. Not all of these cats were feral to begin with. Some are kittens born to pets that have not been sterilized as well. After the cats are sterilized, their behavior is better and they stay healthier, too!

A lot of research has been done to prove that the TNR programs work! If anyone has any doubts, visit www.alleycat.org. It is a huge national organization that works with TNR all the time. The Street Cat Companions feral cat spay/neuter clinic in Albuquerque is a super program as well! If anyone has questions about what they do, visit www.wix.com/streetcat/ streetcatcompanions.

JEN SOUHRADA

Vice President for Outreach, Albuquerque Cat Action Team

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