A new study is out that exposes the truth about tax-payer money and managing free-roaming or feral cats. Commissioned by Best Friends Animal Society and funded by Petsmart Charaties, this study focuses on finding workable community-based solutions to issues facing homeless cats. Under their Friends’ Focus on Felines® program, Best Friends worked to create the Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator, which is capable of figuring out how (Photo: Felix Idan - Flickr) much it would cost a county to eradicate feral cats and how much it would cost to TNR feral cats.
The Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator figures how many cats reside in the selected county (of the selected state) and of the cats, how many are feral (community) cats. The calculator also determines the cost to trap, house, and kill a cat and compares it to the cost to TNR a cat and to TNR a cat using a low-cost clinic. Finally, it calculates the tax-payer savings in the county when TNR is utilized.
The study, completed by John Dunham and Associates (funded by PetSmart Charities), serves as core information for the new online Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator. According to Best Friends, it will help county and local governmental entities determine the true cost of removing homeless cats by destroying them.
Bottom line finding: Trap-neuter-return for community cats could cut costs in half.
With an estimated 87 million free-roaming, homeless cats in the United States, it would cost governmental entities about $16 billion to trap and kill these cats as opposed to about $9 billion for supporting trap-neuter/spay-return (TNR) programs run by rescue organizations and individual volunteers.
Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends said: “With the current economic crisis, cities and counties are laying off animal control staff. Everyone wants to see the number of homeless, free-roaming cats radically reduced, but if you can find a humane way to decrease the number and save money, wouldn’t this be the best alternative? Now more than ever we can use economic arguments to advance humane approaches. After years of eradication programs, we still have an estimated 87 million homeless cats; and trends indicate this number is rising. Eradication only works on an island. The trap and kill method is expensive and it doesn’t work, so why continue to embrace it?"
“Our hope is that government officials and humanitarians will use our Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator to find out how much their community could save by employing TNR,” VanKavage said.
Other key study findings: In most American communities, stray cats are a familiar sight. For more than 10,000 years, the species Felis catus has lived beside humans. With the growing population of feral (community) cats, there has been much policy debate on how to handle the situation. Some argue for eradication, but this doesn’t curb population growth because some new cats that escape trap and kill will always be born. The humane solution is trap, neuter and return, a cost efficient, no-kill means of reducing feral cat populations.
According to the Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator:
In PG County, MD (where ACR is located), there is almost 150,000 cats, with almost 82,000 living as “community” cats. The estimated cost to eradicate one cat is $180 and the cost to TNR one cat (at regular price) is $160. The estimated savings of taxpayer money for the county for one year if TNR was implemented over eradication would be a little more than $1.7 million, with a savings of $8.8 million if discounted sterilization was utilized.
To view the Feral Fiscal Impact Calculator: