Yes, Columbia city council passed an ordinance that permits individuals to practice TNR for stray and feral cats HOWEVER the requirements spelled out in this piece of legislation will make actually carrying our TNR almost impossible. According to the new ordinance, all cats in a colony are now required to be annually tested for feline diseases like FeLV and FIV. Plus, along with ear-tipping the cats, city council is also requiring that every cat also be micro-chipped.
These requirements are ridiculous and basically undermine the entire point of implementing such a program. Requiring individuals to annually test for feline diseases and to micro-chip all cats is highly unnecessary and the added cost of such services is counterproductive to the program. If Columbia wants to reduce its feral cat population then all funding needs to be allocated to actual spaying and neutering (and vaccinating) community cats, not wasted on unnecessary procedures.
The percentage of cats who actually have FeLV or FIV is very small and sterilization helps prevent both diseases from being transmitted. Not to mention, mass screenings of healthy cats can result in large numbers of false positives. And neither disease is a death sentence; cats can live long healthy lives despite having either disease. Although many people still deny this, which leads to wrongly requiring that cats who test positive for either disease be killed. This new ordinance provides an excuse to kill cats, when its purpose is to support a life-saving program.
And requiring that all cats be micro-chipped is beyond a waste of resources. A vital part of the TNR process is to ear-tip each cat for identification purposes. Ear-tipping is a widely accepted means of marking or tagging a feral cat who has been spayed or neutered. It often identifies a cat as being part of a managed colony. Ear-tipping is safe and rarely requires special aftercare. Ear-tipping is especially important as it prevents an already spayed or neutered cat the stress of re-trapping and more importantly, an unnecessary surgery. The silhouette of an ear-tipped cat is very distinct and easily recognizable.
It is clear where Columbia’s city council stands on the issue of TNR. This ordinance was simply a strategic way for the city to look as if it supports TNR, while imposing restrictions that cripple the possibility of it actually being carried out. If Columbia is serious about humanely managing its community cats and reducing their populations, then annual testing and micro-chipping must be removed from the ordinance, so the majority of the funding can be spent on sterilization and vaccination. Dr. Julie Levy is right on when she says, "that reproduction causes more miserable deaths (in colonies) than do these viruses. We have to remember that the largest cause of death of cats in the U.S. is overpopulation and homelessness. Euthanasia of unwanted cats claims the lives of more cats than all infectious diseases combined."