Thursday, December 17, 2009

Compassion is the Way: TNR for Feral Cats / Gatos Callejeros

What to do about the feral cats? I'm in a Mexico City neighborhood that's been overrun. Given the scale of the problem and the scarcity of resources, what is the most compassionate and effective way to address the situation? Well, why reinvent the wheel? Herewith a batch of links:

"Compassion is the Way: The Care and Feeding of Feral Cats" by Nathan J. Winograd
A both knowledgable and commonsensical article. The author recommends a policy of TNR, that is, Trap, Neuter, Return. He writes, "TNR is not only humane, it is the most effective way to reduce the number of homeless cats. In addition, feral cat caregivers are a dedicated 'army of compassion,' and can be one of a shelter’s greatest resources in the community. Organizations on even the smallest budget can start a feral cat program..." Includes a section on humane trapping methods.

Feral Cat Program SPAN-NC Humane Trapping Instructions
More about humane trapping (forget the itty bitty cardboard box, folks... )

Myths and Facts about Spay and Neuter
Just in case your commonsense is still mired in the 18th century (meow).

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies "introduced the practice of spaying and neutering entire colonies with Trap-Neuter-Return in the United States. Since then, Alley Cat Allies has led the progressive movement for the protection of these cats and continues to educate the public about the lives of cats." Includes a page for social networking for friends of feral cats including links to a yahoo listerv, in various U.S. cities, MySpace, facebook, and more. Also check out their excellent resources, including "Starting an Organization to Help Cats." and "How to Implement a TNR Program."

"Sanctuaries: No Place for Feral Cats"
From the Alley Cat Allies website, a page about why sanctuaries (shelters) are generally not the best choice for feral cats.

The Amanda Foundation
Read about this Beverly Hills California-based nonprofit which runs (among many other programs) "mega feral spay/neuter days" with Stray Cat Alliance and Kitten Rescue. Also read about their "spaymobile," a fully outfitted surgery station in a truck, which they call "the answer to ending pet over population."

Lots more going on: Indy Feral in Indiana (note their flyer); SNAP-NC (North Carolina); Feral Cat Coalition; Feral Cats San Diego.

Ear Tipping vs. Tattoo
From Bloomington, Indiana's "Neuter Scooter" page. Their argument sounds good to me.

What's already being done in Mexico City? I asked three different veterianians here; so far none can tell me of any TNR programs for feral cats--- only rescue. The best-known organization is PNA Mexico.

Some other animal rescue organizations based in Mexico:

Refugio Franciscano, A.C.
Working to rescue dogs and cats since 1977. Offers a page about sterilization for dogs and cats. Lots of dogs and cats available for adoption. Gruesome stories, alas.

Los Cabos Humane Society
I know one of the founders; they do a splendid job with fundraising in the community. The annual cocktail party with silent auction is a military-style operation-- with flowers, live music, and hors d'ouerves galore. Flip-flops and an Aloha shirt, it ain't. Seriously, on multiple fronts, they are doing an excellent job and this has helped improve the quality of life for both animals and people in the area.

Amigos de los Animales (San Miguel de Allende)
Many heart-warming stories here.

More links:

Secretaria de Salud, Semana Nacional de Vacunacion
(Mexican Secretary of Health, National Vaccination Week)
Is there a feral cat TNR program? If so, I couldn't find it.

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (USA)

My conclusion thus far: no need to kill the poor kitties, neither to let them starve, nor do you need to scrape together scarce resources to build and administer a shelter. TNR seems to be an effective, compassionate, and relatively inexpensive policy.

Key words: Feral cat colony management with TNR.

More anon.

P.S. If you have links / other information about this issue, and in particular, anything that is already underway in Mexico City, I'd be very happy to hear about it.