TNR is not the best answer for Salina cat problem

— Recently, Ms. Linda Young wrote in regarding feral cats in the town of Salina. While informative, it was one-sided, and the reader deserves a view of the other side.

Ms. Young praises the woman who “took action” against the feral cat population and began to neuter them and adopt out those she could. What was not mentioned is that this woman also has been feeding the feral cats for the past 10 years, beginning with a female and a litter of kittens with others drawn into the area yearly. Advocates claim trap-neuter-return (TNR) keeps new kittens from being born, leading to an eventual elimination of the colony as members die off naturally. If true, the original colony should have died off, leaving us feral cat-free. The fact is if TNR worked, there would have been no opportunity for an additional 32 cats to come around needing to be neutered. Ms. Young’s claim that TNR took this colony from 32 to seven cats is false; this colony started with an initial litter, and over 10 years, up to 32 cats showed up at the food bowl spontaneously. All but seven were relocated — and of those remaining (and we’ve seen far more than seven), not all have successfully been neutered and vaccinated, which means we still have disease-carrying breeding cats present. While TNR advocates tout studies that cats are territorial and will chase other cats away, just as many studies show that a ready food source overrides this and simply attracts more cats. TNR advocates also claim that trapping and removing feral cats doesn’t solve the problem as it produces a “vacuum effect” in which new cats move in and replace those removed. However, just as many studies show this only occurs if food continues to be provided.

These feral cats are using our yards and bushes as a litterbox. We have a puppy and three young children who play in our now feces-dotted yard with little hands and bare feet. This is absolutely unacceptable. Feral cats are the No. 2 carriers of rabies and the No. 1 carrier of toxoplasma, a parasite shed in cat feces which can cause blindness in children. But feral cat advocates have solutions. Cats on your car? Purchase a costly car cover. Cats digging or defecating in your garden or on your lawn? Try frequently scattering your yard expanse with fresh orange and lemon peels, garlic, coffee grounds (lots of them), vinegar, pipe tobacco or citronella. Try plastic carpet runners spike-side up, covered lightly in soil, or cover exposed ground with rocks. Maybe try toothpicks or plastic forks sticking up, blood meal fertilizer, pine cones strewn on the surface. Or try an ultrasonic or water-shooting motion detecting device to the tune of $50 to $75 each (and you’ll need several). And by the way, none but the water shooter has been proven to be effective with all cats, so you may spend a lot of money and effort and make your yard unusable and stinky for nothing.

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