|Alley Cat Rescue believes this is compassion. To some cities and towns though, it's a crime.|
Alley Cat Rescue strongly opposes laws that ban the feeding of feral cats and impose fines or other punishment on those who compassionately care for community cats. These laws are cruel and inhumane in their effects on community cats, place blame on caregivers, and don’t bring communities any closer to effectively addressing pet overpopulation.
Cruel and Inhumane
Feral cats cannot be exterminated by attempting to starve them. There is always another source of food available in today’s urban and suburban environments, and as scavengers the cats eventually find food. They are also territorial animals who will not easily or quickly leave a familiar area to search for new food sources.
Instead, they tend to move closer to human habitations, where there is always food to be scavenged, as they grow hungrier and more desperate. Their malnourished condition will also make them more susceptible to parasite infestations, such as fleas and roundworms. A flea infestation can quickly lead to anemia and death in kittens, and can cause adult cats to obsessively scratch, opening wounds in the skin that can become infected.
Lead to more wandering for food
When a cat loses his food source, he will eventually head off in search of a new one. This can lead to a proliferation of cats across a greater geographical area than when there was a food source for a colony to base itself around. Wandering also leads to conflicts, as cats move into the territory of others. Fights over food, mates and territory can led to injury, and the noise from fighting is a common reason for complaint calls to animal control agencies.
Don’t Reduce the Number of Free-Roaming Cats
Feeding bans do not address the reproduction of cats in any way. Even if not fed by caregivers, cats will continue to reproduce. Feeding bans work at cross-purposes with TNR, without which cats remain unsterilized and unvaccinated, have poorer body condition[i], and are at a greater risk for catching and transmitting zoonotic diseases to people and other animals.
|Giving even one treat is a misdemeanor crime in some places.|
Individuals who feed stray and feral cats should not be blamed or penalized for the existence of cat colonies or pet overpopulation. Rather, they should be embraced by municipalities and encouraged for their acts of compassion and service to their communities. Caretakers often use their own money to feed and sterilize feral cats; without them costs for managing the cats will be passed to the tax-payer. Enforcement, like levying fines and holding court dates, will increase municipal administrative costs, and fewer caregivers will mean an increase in the workload of already-stretched animal control agencies.
Embrace Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Instead
Feeding bans do not improve the lives of free-roaming cats nor do they help communities effectively manage them. Bans make it harder to trap, sterilize, and vaccinate feral cats and punish those who are proactively working to improve their communities. Local governments should instead direct their resources and funds to supporting Trap-Neuter-Return and low-cost spay/neuter programs, which directly address the problems at hand and are proven to reduce feral cat colony size[ii][iii], reduce complaint calls to animal control[iv], and stop the breeding that fills our shelters to capacity.
[i] Scott, Karen C., Julie K. Levy, and Shawn P. Gorman. “Body Condition of Feral Cats and the Effect of Neutering.” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 5, no. 3 (2002): 203-213.
[ii] Levy, Julie K., David W. Gale, and Leslie A. Gale. “Evaluation of the Effect of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return and Adoption Program on a Free- Roaming Cat Population.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 222, no. 1 (2003): 42-46.
[iii] Natoli, Eugenia, et. al. “Management of Feral Domestic Cats in the Urban Environment of Rome (Italy).” Preventative Veterinary Medicine 77 (2006): 180-185.
[iv] Hughes, Kathy L., Margaret R. Slater, and Linda Haller. “The Effects of Implementing a Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Program in a Florida County Animal Control Service.” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 5 (2002): 285-289.