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Trap-Neuter-Return Is Solution For Feral Cats
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

WESTFIELD � We�ve all seen them running across the street, gathering around the dumpster in a parking lot, and generally fleeing from humans. Feral cats are victims � they are the direct result of abandonment by humans and our failure to spay and neuter. And their population will continue to grow unless we do something to control it now. There is a solution that is humane and that works, called the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program.

The success of TNR must begin with dispelling the myth that feral cats are wild. A bobcat is wild. A tiger is wild. Once we begin to think of feral cats as homeless, domestic cats, and realize that the only difference between a housecat and a feral is the latter�s intense fear of humans, we will be more successful in tackling the huge problem of controlling the growing population.

Shell Sullivan, Vice President of Homeless Animal Lifeline (HAL), began her work with feral cats nearly two decades ago, and has been at the forefront of the TNR program in New Jersey. She is committed to the idea that killing homeless animals is unacceptable in this society. According to Ms. Sullivan, "TNR is the only proven method that addresses the overpopulation problem at the root. HAL�s feral cat program," she adds, "helps the public decrease the amount of homeless domestic cats, while providing care for the existing homeless population." The concept is that a sterilized colony of feral cats will eventually die off. It doesn�t hurt that the solution is compassionate, either. Often, these colonies are managed, which means that the spay/neutered/vaccinated group is provided with food, water, and shelter by a designated caregiver.

Proof of TNR�s efficacy is evident in those locales, like Hamilton Township and Cape May, where it is commonly practiced. Not only has the TNR program decreased the population, but it has also decreased the number of cats killed each year at shelters � a solution which costs twice as much as TNR.

The TNR program does have its critics. Concerns that arise from those who have not been educated about TNR include the question of the health hazard posed by feral cats. Actually, these cats are often more resilient than indoor cats, and, the cats in managed colonies are all immunized. A second common criticism is that these cats are killing off the bird population. Sorry, folks � as in all declining wildlife species, human behavior is the number one cause of habitat destruction.

The solution is simple, but your help is needed. The best way for anyone to help in his or her community is to spay/neuter, and to keep their housecats indoors. For more information on TNR, please visit HAL�s website at:, where you can request a free information packet.

Whether you are a cat-lover or not, you must surely agree that there is a common goal with TNR � ending the homeless cat crisis.

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