Trap, neuter and release is not humane

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2017

To the editor:

If people care about homeless cats, the last thing they should do is trap, neuter and re-abandon them (“Help make Suffolk safe for feral cats,” Nov. 29, 2017).

Homeless cats face daily battles against parasites, deadly contagious diseases, extreme temperatures, speeding cars, predators on two legs and four, and more — battles they will inevitably lose.

Email newsletter signup

The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is just 2 to 5 years, compared to 12 to 15 years for an indoor cat. Half of kittens born outdoors die before they are 6 months old. Their leading cause of death is trauma, not euthanasia.

These cats aren’t being “saved.” Their deaths are merely being moved from the peacefulness of an animal shelter to the violence of the streets.

Moreover, trap-neuter-release doesn’t work: It encourages people to abandon cats, because they think they will be “cared for,” and the food attracts more cats (as well as rats and rabies vectors like foxes and raccoons).

With an estimated 80 million homeless cats nationwide (versus an estimated three to four million entering shelters), most cats are clearly dying of something far worse than euthanasia (which, by definition, is painless).

The truly humane way to address this crisis is by requiring that all cats be sterilized, licensed, microchipped and kept indoors, not by turning cats out to suffer on the streets.

Just because we don’t see cats die under porches or behind Dumpsters doesn’t make their deaths any less real — or horrible. We owe cats more than turning a blind eye to their suffering.

Teresa Chagrin

Animal Care & Control Specialist

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals