Letters to the Editor

Best way to remedy feral cat problem is to treat cats more like dogs

Becky Robinson’s April 14 letter praising trap, neuter, release (TNR) for feral cats is troublingly misguided and myopic.

The claim that TNR is best for cats is dubious at best. See the March 5 letter by Teresa Chagrin from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Even clearer is that TNR is detrimental to public and wildlife health.

Cats may carry parasites and diseases transmissible to people, including hookworms, typhus, and toxoplasmosis.

Cats are the top carrier of rabies among domestic animals and disproportionately expose people to the disease. To be effectively immunized against rabies, a cat must be vaccinated, given a booster vaccination at one year, and provided boosters again every 1-3 years — a nearly impossible regimen for uncontained feral animals to follow.

And who is responsible if a child is bitten?

Feral cats also endanger wildlife. Contrary to Ms. Robinson’s ridiculous claim that feral cats are “part of the natural environment,” these cats are actually not native to North America and, like pythons in the Everglades, have wreaked havoc on ecosystems.

Each year cats kill billions of birds and mammals, many of them protected species. Continuing to allow feral cats to roam sacrifices these wild animals and could open up the county to significant legal liabilities.

The existence of feral cats is an indication of a failure on our part. The best way to remedy this is to treat cats more like dogs: require licensing, containment, sterilization, and that feral individuals are removed.

Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at the American Bird Conservancy, Washington D.C.