TNR is good public health policy by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and TNR
Managed feral cat colonies provide toxin free rodent and disease abatement.

During my tenure as executive director of Maricopa County’s Animal Care & Control (1998/2003), I prevailed upon the County Board of Supervisors, with the support of Public Health Director, Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, to proclaim Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) the County’s official methodology for humanely reducing feral cat populations.

In addition to reducing the killing in local animal shelters, another benefit to implementing TNR in our cities is that managed feral cat colonies serve as a toxin free rodent abatement program.  TNR ends the need for poison to control rodent populations and I think we can all agree that this better for our environment, our wildlife and our pets. Continue reading “TNR is good public health policy by Ed Boks”

Formula to end feral cat killing by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and feral cats
The formula to end the killing of feral cats works

It is commonly understood that any serious initiative to end shelter killing has to focus on ending the “supply side” of the surplus animal equation.  The only way to do that is to preemptively spay/neuter those animals most likely to “supply” (give birth to) animals most likely to die in animal shelters.We

The three categories of animals dying in the largest numbers in most shelters throughout the United States are feral cats, pit bulls/pit bull mixes, and Chihuahuas.

There are effective solutions for ending the killing of these populations; and those solutions begin and end with targeted spay/neuter programs.  In a previous blog I addressed the need for targeted spay/neuter programs for pit bulls.  In this blog, I focus on how to end the killing of feral and stray cats.    Continue reading “Formula to end feral cat killing by Ed Boks”

Good news from IRS to volunteers by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Jan Van Dusen
Jan Van Dusen paved the way for volunteers to deduct unreimbursed expenses that further a rescue group’s mission, such as fostering homeless animals.

One of the best kept secrets to being an animal shelter volunteer is a 2011 U.S. Tax Court ruling.  The ruling brought some much-needed clarity to deducting unreimbursed expenses incurred by volunteers helping IRS-recognized charities like your local animal shelter or animal rescue organization.

The case involved Jan Van Dusen, who appeared before a U.S. Tax Court judge and a team of IRS lawyers regarding a tax deduction for taking care of 70 stray cats. Continue reading “Good news from IRS to volunteers by Ed Boks”

State sanctions county, municipal feral cat programs by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and feral catsThe Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) does not accept feral cats. Taking unadoptable feral cats into an animal shelter is a death sentence and is contrary to the YHS no-kill ethic. Rather than employing the “catch and kill” methodology used by many shelters, YHS champions trap/neuter/return (TNR) as the only viable and humane method for effectively reducing feral cat populations.

The Arizona state legislature recently came out in strong agreement with YHS on TNR. Arizona’s governing body overwhelmingly passed SB1260. The new law encourages animal control to return healthy “stray” cats to the vicinity where they were captured after being sterilized; the very definition of TNR.

Coincidentally, perhaps the strongest scientific support for Arizona’s robust endorsement of TNR comes from a 13-month study conducted by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries in Hobart, Australia. The study, entitled “Effects of low-level culling of feral cats in open populations” appeared in a recent edition of the journal Wildlife Research, 2015. The findings, trumpeted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Discovery Science, and other media, directly contradict the Australian government, and its environment minister Greg Hunt, who has called for the “effective” eradication of all feral cats by 2023.

Biologist Billie Lazenby, who led the study, says she expected to validate the use of lethal culling (catch and kill) promoted by the Australian government but instead found, to her dismay, that culling markedly increases the numbers of feral cats in an area.

Lazenby and her team of researchers used remote trail cameras to estimate the number of feral cats at two southern Tasmania study sites before and after a 13-month “low-level culling.”

However, Vox Felina blogger Peter Wolf observed, “The effort was anything but low-level. Over the course of 13 months, researchers managed 2,764 trap-nights-an average of seven traps every day of the culling period. Each trapped cat was, after being left in the trap for up to 12 hours or more, ‘euthanized by a single shot to the head from a 0.22 rifle using hollow point ammunition.'”

“Contrary to our prior expectations,” reported Lazenby, the “number of feral cats rose 75 percent at one test site and 211 percent at the other.” Of particular interest, “Cat numbers fell, and were comparable with those in the pre-culling period, when culling ceased.” Suggesting feral cats fill a stable self-regulated ecological niche.

The researchers ultimately concluded the surprising population explosion was the result of “influxes of new [adult] individuals after dominant resident cats were removed.” A phenomenon YHS refers to as the “vacuum effect.” When cats are removed but natural conditions (such as food sources) remain the deterrents of existing territorial cats vanish and neighboring cats quickly invade and overpopulate the newly open territory.

When culling feral cats, Lazenby now says “You may be inadvertently doing more damage than good.”

“What we should focus on when managing feral cats is reducing their impact; and you don’t reduce impact by reducing numbers.” In fact, a growing number of studies conclusively prove lethal culling induces a biological imperative that causes feral cats to overbreed and overproduce to survive. Counter-intuitively, lethal culling directly exacerbates feral cat problems.

Gratefully Arizona has a legislature who understands the science and through SB1260 is directing county and municipal animal control agencies to recognize TNR as the only viable, humane solution to our communities’ vexing feral cat problems.

Arizona is leading the nation through this ground breaking legislation. How wonderful would it be if Yavapai County and local municipalities took the lead by building an effective and humane trap/neuter/return program on this historic foundation?

Putting cats to work helps them and us By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and feral catsIn a perfect world, all cats would have a loving home, they would be spayed or neutered and they would be kept indoors. Stray cat problems arise because unaltered pet cats are permitted to roam freely outdoors and they either become feral (wild) over time and/or they produce feral offspring.

The only time a cat should ever be allowed outdoors is when it is too feral to keep indoors and then only if it is spayed or neutered so it doesn’t contribute to feral cat overpopulation. However, the responsibility for making sure feral cats are spayed or neutered often unfairly falls to a compassionate person who voluntarily steps up to feed them.

Truth be known, these caregivers and their feral cats deserve our respect and our support; they provide an important service to our developing communities. They help alleviate pressure on our overcrowded shelters; they help keep rodents in check without the use of pest control chemicals that are toxic to the environment and dangerous to pets, wildlife and children; and they help reduce rodent related public health risks, such as the plague, the fatal Leptospirosis, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Murine Typhus, Rat Bite Fever, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Eosinophilic Meningitis.

Feral cats have taken the place of the diminishing wild animal populations in preventing an overpopulation of rodents. This is why more and more U.S. communities are joining Denmark, England, Israel and other countries in relying on feral cats to serve as a “green” (environmentally friendly) rat abatement program.

The reason feral cats are so effective is because rodents flee neighborhoods where these cats make their presence known. They actually give off an odor through their paws as they prowl about and once rodents get a whiff of feline, they quickly vacate the premises.

Less grisly than glue traps — and much more effective – feral cats go about their “work” naturally. They prowl, they eat and they sit in the sun; although they prefer to spend much of their time hiding from view.

And the oft heard complaint that feral cats are a public nuisance can be humanely remedied through a formalized feral cat program – because, contrary to conventional wisdom, you can herd cats. Feral cats tend to follow the food bowl. Unobtrusive feeding stations established in out of the way locations ensure feral cat nuisance complaints are greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether.

I encourage municipalities to support feral cat caregivers through a program called Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination). Through Operation FELIX, feral cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and ear-tipped (under anesthesia while the cats are being altered, veterinarians notch an ear tip, the widely recognized sign that a feral cat is altered).

To truly be effective, local municipalities should allocate funding to support Operation FELIX in their respective jurisdictions, as they are typically the recipients of feral cat complaints. Until that happens, YHS depends on donations and grants to help support our community’s volunteer feral cat care givers as they voluntarily provide this valuable community service.

If you want to help support this innovative, non-lethal feral cat program please make a donation to your local shelter and specify “FELIX” on your check.

For more information on Operation FELIX or how to solve feral cat problems in your neighborhood contact me.

If you have a rodent problem in your home or place of business, consider adopting a Working Cat as a humane solution.

In the cold weather, be sure to tap the hood of your car before starting it. Cats often look for warmth under the hood and this simple practice could save a life.

Time to solve our feral cat problem by Ed Boks

In a perfect world, all cats would have a loving home.  Unfortunately, unaltered cats permitted to roam freely either become feral or produce feral offspring. Feral means wild, meaning these cats are unsuitable as pets.  Rather than kill feral cats I promote reducing their numbers through a process called TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). This process is managed through an Ed Boks program called Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination). Ed Boks and Cat

Why not just kill feral cats?  Besides being inhumane, these felines serve a valuable community purpose.  Feral cats keep rodents in check; and they do this without the use of pest control chemicals that are toxic to the environment and dangerous to pets, wildlife and children.  By reducing rodent populations, feral cats also help reduce the incidence of many diseases carried by rodents, including the Plague, Leptospirosis and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome..

Feral cats are how a community controls rodent infestation and disease; TNR is how a community controls its feral cat population.

Leonardo Fibonacci, a preeminent mathematician during the Middle Ages, created a formula relating to agriculture productivity.  Six centuries later, Louis Pasteur, used this model to accurately predict that 70 percent of a susceptible population has to be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic of a contagious disease.  This discovery came to be known as Fibonacci’s 70 percent Rule which is recognized today by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.

If we consider sterilization as a method of “vaccinating” feral cats against the “disease” of overpopulation then, according to the Fibonacci Rule, 70 percent of the susceptible feral cat population in your community must be sterile to affect a population decrease.  Once the 70 percent rate is achieved, the transmission odds (successful breeding encounters) of the remaining 30 percent will only be enough to replace normal attrition.

Municipal leaders are well advised to help this effort by allocating monies to help fund Operation FELIX type programs in their local community.

Every community can choose to pay the modest costs of funding targeted spay/neuter programs designed to fix the problem or they can continue to pay the ever increasing costs of catching and killing animals.  I promote proactive solutions and hope you’ll support this effort by implementing an “Operation FELIX” program in your community.  For more information contact me.

Study fails to debunk Trap-Neuter-Return by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and feral cats
Best way to protect birds from feral cats is Operation FELIX

Nature Communications is a journal dedicated to publishing research in the sciences. They recently published a controversial report on the findings of a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute study. The results quickly became fodder for an uncritical media willing to accept its dubious findings.

Curiously, the authors elected to place their “results” in the mainstream media rather than submit them for peer review – suggesting the report was never meant for scientists, but to misinform policy makers.

The study estimated that domestic cats in the United States kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion native mammals, like shrews, chipmunks and voles, a year.

This estimate is two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, making the domestic cat the single greatest human-linked threat to wildlife in the nation – greater than automobiles, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and other so-called anthropogenic causes.

The report comes with many uncertainties and seems purposely designed to fuel the sometimes vitriolic debate between environmentalists who see free-roaming domestic cats as an invasive species and animal welfare advocates who are concerned with the millions of cats (and dogs) euthanized in animal shelters each year.

Both sides do agree on two points; pet cats should not be allowed to prowl the neighborhood at will, any more than a dog or a horse; and cat owners who insist that their felines “deserve” a bit of freedom are both irresponsible and not very cat friendly.

Projects like Kitty Cams at the University of Georgia attached cameras to the collars of indoor-outdoor pet cats to track their activities. Cats were not only filmed preying on cardinals, frogs and field mice but were also seen lapping up antifreeze and sewer sludge, dodging moving cars and sparring violently with large dogs.

This is why the I say if you love your cat, keep your cat indoors.

However, the real purpose of the study is to call into question the well established Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method for humanely decreasing feral cat populations through attrition. TNR is the practice of trapping, spaying and returning un-owned cats to a managed colony in the area from which they came. The authors of the report failed to understand that TNR is the only known means for reducing feral cat populations and as a result reducing the number of wildlife killed by feral cats.

The report deduces eradication is the best remedy for dealing with feral cats, not recognizing that decades of such efforts across the United States irrefutably demonstrates eradication does not work.

Feral cats have a strong survival drive, which means attempts to catch cats for extermination triggers a biological imperative to over-breed and over-produce. The consequences are exponential; rather than one litter of two or three kittens per year, a stressed female will have two or three litters of six to nine kittens annually.

Even if a community could remove all its feral cats, a phenomenon called “the vacuum effect” quickly lures neighboring cats into the newly open territory bringing with them all their annoying behaviors, including increased wildlife killing.

As we’ve seen time after time in locations all over the country, the end result of “catch and kill” is always the same: vacated neighborhoods are swiftly overrun again with feral cats fighting and caterwauling for mates, over breeding, and spraying to mark their new territory – sometimes leading to demands for stronger eradication efforts, which as we know, only exacerbates the problem.

The only way to save our wildlife is to reduce the number of feral cats. The only proven way to do that is through well managed Trap/Neuter/Return programs.

The Big Fix by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and The Big FixOur motto at the Yavapai Humane Society is “Every Animal Counts.” We work hard to live up to that because we know that lost, homeless, abused and neglected animals count on YHS to intervene and reverse their plight.

Unfortunately, we can’t save them all – at least not without broad community support. Too often, and for too many animals, our limited resources become exhausted and we are forced to make the difficult decision to take the life of an animal before their time.

The good news is that euthanasia at YHS is down drastically! Following a recent change in YHS leadership and policy, the killing was reduced 42.23 percent when compared to the same period last year. Remarkably, this was accomplished despite a 3 percent increase in the number of animals taken in during this same period.

Some believe that killing shelter animals is the unavoidable by-product of providing efficient municipal services to residents. But these pragmatists might consider a state of Minnesota Legislative report, which found that for each dollar invested in spay/neuter programs, $20 in animal control costs could be saved over 10 years.

People who excuse euthanasia in shelters often say we have to be “realistic,” but such realism is best directed at the sources of the problem. Effective spay/neuter programs to assist pet owners who are poor, elderly on a fixed income, or living in remote or underserved areas is a far better use of public and private funding than catching and killing lost and homeless pets.

YHS is engaged in a quest to achieve “no-kill.” No-kill is defined as consistently applying the same criteria a loving pet owner or compassionate veterinarian would use to determine if or when to euthanize a shelter animal. That is, no healthy or treatable animal would be killed simply because of a lack of shelter space or resources.

To help orchestrate a more strategic no-kill effort, YHS is announcing a community-wide spay/neuter initiative called “The Big Fix.” The Big Fix is a program that will provide low- or no-cost spay/neuter services for pets of needy families as well as pets adopted from YHS shelters.

The Big Fix will be funded by donations and grants – and it desperately needs your help to get started. While the reduced killing over the past two months represents a good start in the right direction, we have a long way to go. Your check or online donation to YHS, with an annotation for “The Big Fix,” will help fix the problem of pet overpopulation so we can more quickly achieve No-Kill!

So where is YHS in achieving this goal today? The industry standard for calculating a community’s progress toward no-kill is determined by the number of pet deaths in local shelters annually per 1,000 human residents. The national kill rate in 2009 was 13.5. This is based on an estimated human population of 300,079,939 and 4,157,918 recorded animal deaths.

In the Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah), the kill rate was 15.2, based on an estimated human population of 19,048,000 and 289,530 recorded animal deaths.

Our quad-city region has an estimated human population of 110,000. With 1,892 shelter deaths in 2009, our kill rate was a staggering and unacceptable 17.25.

For years, the animal welfare community thought no-kill would be achieved when killing was reduced to 5 deaths per 1,000 residents, recognizing there will always be terminally ill and injured animals and dangerously aggressive dogs that require humane euthanasia.

However, in recent years, New York City and Los Angeles reduced their kill rates to 2 and 3.7, respectively, demonstrating we really don’t know how far we can go in this life-saving quest. And if you think things work differently in small towns or rural communities, consider the fact that Reno, Nevada, has reduced their kill rate to 5.4.

As a community, we can choose to pay the relatively modest cost to fund targeted spay/neuter programs designed to fix the problem on the front end, or we can continue to pay the ever-increasing costs of catching and killing animals on the back end. We prefer the more proactive front-end approach, and we hope you will agree by sending in a donation today for “The Big Fix,” so we can help low-income pet owners spay and neuter their pets. For more information contact me.

Operation FELIX: Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Albert EinsteinInsanity, 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.

Ed Boks and feral cats
Feral cats are descended from domestic cats but are born and live without human contact. Trap/Neuter/Return is the only effective – and humane – method of controlling the feral cat population.

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 this, YHS is enacting a moratorium on accepting feral cats at its shelters until a comprehensive community-wide feral cat program can be initiated.

In the next weeks, YHS will work with others in the community to help develop a program to provide quad-city residents the training and tools they need to effectively employ TNR in their neighborhoods.

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 would like to help develop this program, please contact me.

Should compassion be outlawed by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and feral catsThat is the question being debated in Beverly Hills this month. The debate officially began on Wednesday, July 1st, when a 65-year-old Feral Cat Colony Manager named Katherine Varjian appeared before a judge in the Beverly Hills courthouse charged with the crime of feeding feral cats.

To be sure there are some technical issues regarding the law and Beverly Hills’ contract with LA Animal Services, but this case begs a fundamental question, “should compassion be outlawed?”

While I am sure no one in Beverly Hills wants to outlaw compassion, it should be understood that criminalizing the feeding of feral cats does just that. Although municipalities may deliberately or inadvertently outlaw compassion by ordinance, they can never stop it. When compassion is outlawed compassionate people will turn outlaw before denying their better angels. Ms. Varjian may be a case in point.

This case presents Beverly Hills with the opportunity to once again take a national leadership position; just as they did in December, 2008 when they officially became a “Guardian City.” In that decision, the Beverly Hills City Council demonstrated their compassionate intentions by “recognizing animals as Individuals, not objects”, adopting programs designed to “change public attitudes towards animals and provide positive impacts on local communities”, and “decrease animal abuse and abandonment.”

Surely this commitment and this case present a unique opportunity for the City of Beverly Hills to expand the circle of compassion to include feral cats.

What Are Our Choices: Communities typically employ one of three methodologies to deal with feral cats: 1) Do nothing, 2) Eradication, or 3) Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR).

While it is easy to understand why doing nothing has little effect on reducing feral cat populations (and, in fact, encourages growth), it may not be as easy to understand why eradication does not work.

Although some communities continue to employ eradication (“do not feed” “catch and kill”) as a remedy, decades of eradication efforts in communities across the United States has irrefutably demonstrated that this methodology does not work. There are two very real biological reasons why eradication fails every time.

Wild animals tend to have strong biological survival mechanisms. Feral cats, which are wild animals, typically live in colonies of six to twenty cats. You often never see all the cats in a colony and it is easy to underestimate the number of feral cats in a neighborhood. When individuals or authorities try to catch cats for extermination this heightens the biological stress on the colony.

This stress triggers two survival mechanisms causing the cats to 1) over breed, and 2) over produce. That is, rather than having one litter of two to three kittens per year, a stressed female could have two or three litters per year of six to nine kittens.

Even if a community was successful in catching and removing all the feral cats from a neighborhood, a phenomenon called “the vacuum effect” would be created.

When some or all the cats in a colony are removed, cats in surrounding neighborhoods gravitate toward the ecological niche vacated. When a colony is removed but the natural conditions (including food sources) remain, the natural deterrents offered by an existing colony of territorial cats evaporate and the neighboring cats quickly enter the newly open territory, bringing with them all the associated annoying behaviors.

As we’ve seen time after time in location after location all over the country, the end result of the “catch and kill” methodology is always the same: The vacated neighborhood quickly finds itself overrun again with feral cats fighting and caterwauling for mates, over breeding, and spraying to mark their new territory. “Catch and kill” never provides a lasting solution and can easily exacerbate the problem.

Albert Einstein defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. That is why so many communities are abandoning the failed “catch and kill” methodologies in favor of trying the newest and only humane, non-lethal alternative: TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return).

TNR is being practiced in more and more communities across the United States and around the world with amazing results.

While I was in Maricopa County, TNR was so successful that the County Board of Supervisors enacted a resolution declaring TNR the only viable methodology they would approve for addressing the feral cat problem in this County of 24 cities and towns (including Phoenix) spread out across nearly 1,000 square miles.

While in New York City, we observed a 73% reduction in the number of stray cats impounded in a targeted zip code on the Upper West Side of Manhattan over a 42-month period of practicing TNR. TNR, correctly administered, is the only methodology that guarantees a reduction of the feral cat population in a community.

When TNR is employed effectively, all the feral cats in a neighborhood are trapped, sterilized, and returned to the area where they were trapped. They are returned 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 and watch for any new cats. Once the colony cats are all neutered, new cats tend to be recently abandoned domestics that can be captured and placed for adoption.

Ms. Varjian is a Certified Feral Cat Colony Manager; trained and certified by Dona Cosgrove Baker, President and Founder of the nationally recognized Feral Cat Caretakers’ Coalition.

There are many benefits to TNR: 1) TNR prevents the vacuum effect from occurring. 2) TNR dramatically mitigates the troubling behaviors of intact cats: fighting and caterwauling for mates, and spraying for territory. 3) Altered cats provide rat abatement, a service many neighborhoods value, such as the Flower District in Los Angeles, and 4) because feral cats tend to only live one-third their natural life span the problem literally solves itself through attrition, provided TNR is implemented community wide.

TNR also addresses the concern that feral cats tend to create a public nuisance on campuses and in parks. There is an old adage that claims you can’t herd cats. In fact, you can herd neutered cats because they tend to hang around the food bowl. Because neutered cats no longer have the urge to breed and prey, they tend to follow the food bowl wherever the Colony Manager takes it. Feral cats can be trained to congregate in campus or park areas out of the way of the public or other wildlife.

When you review LA’s statistics it is clear that free-roaming cats represent our biggest challenge to achieving No-Kill.

Nothing hinders Beverly Hills from joining the City of Glendale and other communities who have already embraced TNR. It is my hope that Katherine Varjian’s case will open the door to a deliberative dialogue on the effectiveness of TNR for our residents, our wildlife and our feral cats.

Citizens interested in voicing their opinion on this matter can attend the next Beverly Hills City Council meeting where the question of reinstating a prohibition on feeding feral cats will be reconsidered. The question is much bigger than feeding or not feeding feral cats. The question that needs to be answered is, can we as a community come up with a humane, non-lethal solution to our feral cat problems. I believe the answer is a resounding “Yes”.

The next Beverly Hills City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 4th at 7 p.m. at the Beverly Hills City Council, Rm. 400 (Council Chambers) located at 455 N. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

If you cannot attend you can voice your opinion by contacting your Beverly Hills representative by letter, e-mail, fax or phone. (Phone: 310-285-1013, Fax: 310-275-8159)