Friday, June 5, 2009

What happens to cats in shelters?

“Euthanasia” in animal control pounds and shelters is the number one documented cause of death of all cats in the U.S. The most comprehensive study to date indicates that 72% of all cats entering these facilities are killed. Just 23% are adopted, and only 2% are reunited with their owners.

These statistics are from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy Shelter Statistics Survey, 1994-97. It surveyed roughly 5,000 shelters annually for four years, receiving responses from about 1,000. Although dated, it remains the most comprehensive and rigorous study that exists. More recent, less complete studies reflect the same trends—for instance, the 2006 National Animal Control Association Statistical Survey showed that 66% of cats were killed.

For feral cats, the kill rate in pounds and shelters rises to virtually 100%.

Cats entering traditional animal pounds and shelters have only three possible outcomes: being adopted, reunited with an owner, or killed. Yet feral cats are unsocialized to humans and can’t adjust to life in a human home, and they have no traditional “owners” to claim them. For them, the only possible outcome is death.

Although the exact number of feral cats in this country is not known, some scientists estimate it is same as the house cat population, that is, 82 million. These animals are one of the most significant populations facing animal control pounds and shelters today.

Yet feral cats are also the animals whom facilities are usually least equipped to handle. Indeed, many pounds and shelters classify healthy feral cats as “unhealthy” or “untreatable,” which excludes them from “healthy animal” kill rates. These cats continue to be funneled into a system in which all of them are killed.

This is why the TNR Program is so important and why i am actively involved in the mission to save these feral cats.

* This article and graphic was supplied by Alley Cat Allies

What is TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return)?

Im very active in animal rescue, especially the TNR Program (Trap-Neuter-Return) for feral cats. Allot of people have been asking me questions lately about the TNR Program and how it works, so i thought i should make a blog about how i do the TNR Program in the Plant City area.

Below is a video about the TNR process being demonstrated by Alley Cat Allies.

The plight of feral cats has captured the hearts of animal lovers for many years, but only recently has a non-lethal option for their care become available. Called a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, this humane alternative involves spaying and neutering feral cats, then returning them to their colonies where they are looked after and fed by caretakers (An estimated 12% of families in the US take on this role). This solution successfully decreases the population, reduces birth rates and improves the overall health of the colony. Performed at a large scale, the success of such programs is felt at animal shelters where fewer cats are admitted for euthanasia.

The TNR Program (Trap-Neuter-Return) that I participate in begins with the trapping of feral cats using humane cage traps. The captured feral cats are taken (in the trap) to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay where they are sterilized by spaying the females and neutering the males. The cats are also given rabies vaccinations, distemper shots, a general exam, and the tip of one ear is clipped so that they can easily be identified as a sterilized feral.

After the cats are sterilized and vaccinated, they are placed back into the traps and are brought back to volunteers homes where they recover from the surgery. After recovery, the cats are released back into their colony to live out their lives without reproducing and adding to the over population of feral cats. These cat colonies are fed daily by the help of volunteers. The kittens and/or other cats that can be socialized with people are placed into foster homes and made available for adoption.

For more information about TNR Programs visit the websites below or if you would like to get involved in the local Plant City/Tampa Bay Area, please contact me at