I recently attended an anti-animal cruelty fundraising event. Heroic individuals who dedicated their lives to ending the most dreadful forms of cruelty were recognized – cruelty like the fur trade, circuses, trophy hunting, rodeos, puppy mills, the dog meat industry, and so on.
Insanity, according to Albert Einstein, is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Many communities address their feral cat problem over and over again with two basic methodologies - only to be disappointed by the consequences of their efforts.
Feral cats are cats who have reverted to a wild state – born from tame cats that owners abandon or allow to run loose. These cats mate with other free-roaming cats, and their offspring, raised without human compassion, are wild, or feral. They grow up and breed with other feral and free-roaming cats and the cat population increases exponentially. Feral cats are considered a public nuisance by some and a public health concern by others. They needn’t be either.
The two methodologies employed by most communities are Do Nothing and Eradication. Decades of applying these methodologies has proven they don’t work – and there are very real biological reasons why.
It is easy to understand why doing nothing has little impact on the problem, but it is not as easy to understand why eradication does not work.
Feral cats typically live in colonies of 6 to 20 cats. When individuals try to catch cats for extermination, this heightens the biological stress of the colony, triggering a survival mechanism that causes the cats to over-breed and over-produce. Consequently, instead of birthing one litter per year with two or three kittens, a stressed female will produce two or three litters with 6 to 9 kittens each.
Even in the unlikely event that a person could catch and remove all the feral cats in a neighborhood, a phenomenon known as “the vacuum effect” would result. The removed colony had kept surrounding colonies at bay, but once removed, all deterrents evaporate and the surrounding cats enter the new territory to over-breed. The vacated neighborhood is quickly overrun with feral cats fighting for mates, caterwauling, and spraying for territory. Extermination only exacerbates the problem and actually produces worse results than doing nothing at all.
However, there is a third methodology that is increasingly practiced in communities across the United States and around the world with amazing results. It is called Trap/Neuter/Return, or TNR.
With TNR, all the feral cats in a neighborhood are trapped, sterilized, and returned to the area where they originated – under the care of a colony manager. The colony manager is a trained volunteer in the neighborhood willing to feed, water, and care for the colony.
TNR prevents the vacuum effect. Altered cats display none of the troubling behaviors of intact cats. Feral cats provide free rodent abatement, a service many neighborhoods unknowingly rely on. Since feral cats only live three to five years, the problem literally solves itself through attrition, provided TNR is implemented community-wide.
TNR also solves public nuisance complaints. There is an adage that says “you can’t herd cats.” In fact, you can herd neutered cats because they tend to hang around the food bowl. No longer having the urge to breed and prey, they follow the food bowl wherever the colony manager takes it. Feral cats can be trained to congregate in areas out of the way of the public.
TNR is a non-lethal, humane and cost-effective solution. Understanding these facts, municipal animal shelters ought to enact a moratorium on accepting feral cats until a comprehensive community-wide feral cat program can be initiated.
TNR empowers citizens to solve this troublesome problem once and for all. Feral cats are trapped, neutered, vaccinated, health-checked by a veterinarian and returned to their neighborhood where their population is stabilized and reduced through attrition.
If you would like more information on TNR or if you need help to develop this program in your community, please contact me.
Los Angeles, August 29, 2019 – The City of Los Angeles has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to evaluate the potential environmental effects of the proposed Citywide Cat Program (proposed Project) that addresses free-roaming (feral or stray) cats in the City. The City is requesting input on the Draft EIR from public agencies, residents, and other interested project stakeholders.
Project Background: In 2006, the City’s Department of Animal Services began to implement a “trap, neuter, return” (TNR) policy and program for free-roaming cats. The City also distributed vouchers to be used for free-roaming cat spay or neuter surgeries, issued cat trapping permits, and otherwise provided support and referrals to community groups that engage in TNR programs. In 2008, the City was sued, and in 2010 the Los Angeles Superior Court issued an Injunction which prohibited the City from further implementing the TNR policy and program without completing an environmental review process in compliance with CEQA (Case No. BS115483). The City prepared a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) in 2013, but ultimately decided to modify the proposed Project and prepare an EIR. The scoping process for the EIR began in 2017.
Project Description: Under the proposed Project, the City would: Directly engage in or make available funds for the spay/neuter of free-roaming cats that may be returned to where they were found, relocated to a working cat program, or adopted; Make amendments to the City of Los Angeles Administrative Code (LAAC) to broaden the permitted use of Animal Sterilization Funds and to the City of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) regarding the definition of a cat kennel; Implement a modified trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program that includes facilitation of trapping, neutering, and returning, TNR-related community education and outreach and collaboration with TNR organizations, and use of incentives to encourage the capture, sterilization, and release of free-roaming cats, including to TNR groups who may return the cats to free-roaming status; Publish and implement program guidelines and ecological conservation measures; and Create a working cat program.
Project Objectives: Broadly stated, the purpose of the proposed Project is to assist in achieving the City’s no kill goal and support the City’s adoption of TNR as the preferred method of addressing the free-roaming cat population in the City. The objectives of the proposed Citywide Cat Program include: Facilitating spaying and neutering of cats in the City; Reducing the relative number of free-roaming cats in the City over time; Facilitating more public and community education on animal-related topics, including free-roaming cats; Training animal services center staff members on cat management programs and engage in collaborative efforts with local rescue groups to help respond to and address free-roaming cat issues; Further implement the City’s no-kill policy by reducing the rate of euthanasia of cats in City animal services centers; and Establishing TNR as the preferred policy to humanely address free-roaming cats.
Environmental Impacts: The analysis contained in the Draft EIR determined that the proposed Project would not result in any significant environmental impacts. No mitigation is required.
Hard copies may also be viewed at the following locations:
Los Angeles Central Library located at 630 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071.
City of LA, Bureau of Engineering, 1149 S. Broadway, 6th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90015
North Central Animal Services Center, 3201 Lacy Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031
South LA Animal Services Center, 1850 West 60th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90047
West LA Animal Services Center, 11361 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
Harbor Animal Services Center, 957 North Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
East Valley Animal Services Center, 14409 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, CA 91405
West Valley Animal Services Center, 20655 Plummer Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311
Public Meeting: A public meeting to receive comments on the Draft EIR will be held on Monday, October 7, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Ramona Hall Community Center, 4580 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065.
Comments: Please send comments on the Draft EIR to:
Send your comments in letter format as an attachment to the email;
Include a mailing address in the comment letter; and
Include “CAT PROGRAM” in the subject line.
Following the close of the comment period, the City will consider and prepare responses to the comments received and compile a Final EIR. The Final EIR will be posted online at the Bureau of Engineering website: https://eng.lacity.org/citywide-cat-program-e1907610.
All responses to comments submitted on the DEIR by public agencies will be provided to those agencies at least 10 days prior to certification of the Final EIR. The Board of Animal Services Commissioners and City Council Committee(s) may consider and make recommendations to the Los Angeles City Council regarding the Final EIR and proposed Project. The Los Angeles City Council will make findings regarding the extent and nature of the environmental impacts as described in the Final EIR. The Final EIR will need to be certified by the City prior to making a decision to approve or deny the proposed Project. Public input is encouraged at all public meetings before the City.
More information on the value of TNR programs in your community can be found here:
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