Should I Bring Feral Cats to a Cat Shelter?

Becky Robinson, founder of Alley Cat Allies, shares what happens to cats when they get turned over to cat shelters.

By Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies | Posted: February 6, 2012, 5 p.m. EST

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Q: I have been feeding a group of cats in my neighborhood and recently learned about TNR. I reached out to my local shelter and animal control for help and they are not interested — they instead suggested I bring the cats to the shelter and told me the cats will be humanely euthanized. That seems so extreme, and I certainly don’t want that! Is this the norm?

A: First, thank you for helping your neighborhood cats. You are on the right track! Neutering feral cats through Trap-Neuter-Return is the best way to help them and improve their lives. As you’ve seen firsthand, feral cats can live happy, long lives outside.

Convincing policymakers and our nation’s pounds and shelters to recognize that as fact, and that TNR is the lifesaving approach for feral cats, may not be as easy — but we must be persistent.

The answer you received when you called your local shelter is, unfortunately, the standard response to feral cats. Most animal control agencies and local shelters have been “euthanizing”— a euphemism for killing — the majority of cats and dogs who enter their doors for decades. It is systematic killing, and it is unacceptable. The average shelter kills 72% of all cats who enter their doors, and if a cat is not socialized and therefore not adoptable, like the feral cats you care for, that number rises to virtually 100%.

What is encouraging to us, and should be to you as well, is that your reaction to this killing is also the norm. A recent AP-Petside.com poll found that seven out of 10 animal owners do not support the rampant killing in shelters and believe that shelters should only truly euthanize  a dog or cat who is too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted. These findings support the true definition of euthanasia.

Alley Cat Allies is calling for an end to the widespread and unnecessary killing, which can only take place with the complete transformation of our dog and cat pound and shelter system. We are mobilizing people on a grassroots level to speak out against municipal and state policies that harm cats and informing Americans on the truth about the documented No. 1 cause of death to cats — “euthanasia” in our nation’s shelters . More must be done, you can help and time is of the essence.

Please join the Alley Cat Allies mission. Sign up to receive our eAction Alerts FeralPower! , which will keep you up to date on local and national issues. You can make a difference in your community and help change our nation’s shelter policies.

Again, thanks for taking care of the cats in your community. Alley Cat Allies has all the answers to your questions about how to implement a Trap-Neuter-Return program. If you have specific questions, use the Alley Cat Allies Email Assistance Form to reach a member of the National Cat Help Desk.

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Reader Comments

Shirley    Tucson, AZ

7/8/2012 1:44:16 PM

Thank you for the good advice and all the good things you do for feral cats.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

3/14/2012 5:28:56 PM

Good article.

Gail    Randolph, MA

3/9/2012 10:40:52 AM

TNR works and more public resources should be allocated to it instead of killing these poor cats. The small non-profit, all volunteer, rescue organization that I work with in Massachusetts has been maintaining healthy, stable feral colonies for years through the use of TNR, feeding, and care. We have made a difference in our local area but do not have the resources--money, trappers, or caretakers--to do much more. Huge increases in funding for low cost or, preferably, free spay/neuter facilites as well as expanded TNR programs is urgently needed to make a start in reducing the tragic problem of cat overpopulation in this country.

Gail    Randolph, MA

3/9/2012 10:39:24 AM

TNR works and more public resources should be allocated to it instead of killing these poor cats. The small non-profit, all volunteer, rescue organization that I work with in Massachusetts has been maintaining healthy, stable feral colonies for years through the use of TNR, feeding, and care. We have made a difference in our local area but do not have the resources--money, trappers, or caretakers--to do much more. Huge increases in funding for low cost or, preferably, free spay/neuter facilites as well as expanded TNR programs is urgently needed to make a start in reducing the tragic problem of cat overpopulation in this country.

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