pen rainbow

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good for You, Good for Feral Cats

Now, there is concrete evidence that trap-and-neuter + spay programs work better than trap-and-kill and trap-and-neuter programs to reduce and eliminate feral cat colonies

^^^  Does not know he's neutered ^^^

Here is a great article from a pet blog I follow called, PetMD, written by a group of veterinarians.

A new study published in the August 15, 2013, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows how three commonly used management techniques work to reduce &/or eliminate feral cat colonies.

Through computer modeling, researchers were able to determine that trapping male and female ferals, sterilizing them, then returning them to the colony was the most effective method for reducing and eliminating the colony.  This method called, Trap Vasectomy/ Hysterectomy Release (TVHR), was measured against Trap Neuter Release (TNR) and Lethal Control (LC).  The results were striking!

From Dr. Coates' article...

"Unless > 57% of cats were captured and neutered annually by TNR or removed by lethal control, there was minimal effect on population size. In contrast, with an annual capture rate of ≥ 35%, TVHR caused population size to decrease. An annual capture rate of 57% eliminated the modeled population in 4,000 days by use of TVHR, whereas > 82% was required for both TNR and lethal control."

Isn't that amazing?  It turns out that neutered male cats retain the breeding hierarchy in the colony and fend off other breeding males.  They retain their hormone levels and mate with the intact and sterile females, resulting in a 45-day period of pseudopregancy.  Sterile females continue to attract males and compete with the intact females for breeding time.  The more sterile cats in the colony, the better!  

Here is a link to the full article, The Secret to Controlling Feral Cat Colonies, by Jennifer Coates, DVM_PetMD_12 September 2013.

If you have feral cat colonies in your community, spread the good word on this issue.  Killing ferals simply does not work because the capture rate isn't high enough to make a difference.  Neutering just the feral males and sending them back to the colony can actually make things worse by increasing the population!

Ignoring the problem is inhumane.  Kittens in feral colonies have only a 12 to 33% chance of surviving to 6 months of age.  Ferals have a huge impact on native bird populations, and they become prey for coyotes and other predators.  They are vulnerable to disease, exposure, and starvation.  Feeding ferals makes the problem worse by increasing the size of the colony.    

This is a problem with an easy solution!!  

Trap-Vasectomy-Hysterectomy-Release works.

Click HERE for a link to the study, Estimation of Effectiveness of Three Methods of Feral Cat Population Control by Use of A Simulation Model.  McCarthy RJLevine SHReed JM.


Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.