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Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is actually Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon an Intro

26 Jul

I feel very passionate that Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is inhumane/cruel and ineffective. It is very popular where I live in (hot) Arizona, and I just hate it for many reasons. Which I will specify in detail in these posts. I spent a disproportionate time arguing against it with neighbors on the Nextdoor app, but have decided a better use of my time would be to write a research paper on the matter. Using facts and legitimate sources, not just feelings and experiences. In this blog series, I’ll be posting some of my (yet to be edited) findings. I hope you will read with an open mind and really think about this information rationally, as I am attempting to do.

Why is there an Outside Cat Problem:

Cats are either born outside, or they had been owned and that (irresponsible, heartless) person left them outside to fend for themselves.

The cats are living in substandard conditions on the street.

In the elements, all weather (sometimes 120F here in AZ, 140 triple digit days last May-Oct), and natural phenomenon such as hurricanes or drought.

Breeding, fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

A rescuer begins feeding.  This habituates these outdoor cats to people, gathers them in one place at a certain time, and nourishes the cats.

A live trap is set and (hopefully) all the breeding cats are collected and taken to the shelter.  Whether females are included, depends on funding. Being inside a trap is stressful to the cats, as is going in a car, being taken to an unfamilar place, being around loud, unfamilar animals and people, and getting a shot in order to be able to castrate.  It’s all very traumatic and stressful to these outdoor cats, just as it is to ANY cat.  

The toms are neutered, and it takes only minutes of a veterinarian’s time.  They do not even need to be fully anesthetized and put on gas to sustain the unconsciousness.  The sedation is much lighter, and the vet dexterously neuters each cat relatively quickly.

Spaying is a bigger job.  The queen has to go under full anesthesia, sustain unconsciousness with gas inhalant, have supplemental oxygen, and more monitoring equipment for vitals, and usually always (I sincerely hope!) a 2nd person in the room to monitor, help, and in case of emergencies.  Going fully under is a higher risk, longer procedure, and more costly as a result.  TNR programs may have the funds (and motivation) to spay, or they may not.

Honestly, all cats should have an FIV/FeLV test, a rabies, FVRCP, and the optional FIV vaccines since they are outside, and get dewormed.  At least.  These items are highly dependent on funds, and as such are usually neglected for the TNR cats.

After the castration, sometimes cats are allowed to recover in the shelter, sometimes there’s no space or time.  So the cats are dumped back outside, sometimes while still a bit groggy and disoriented.

Then the cats are outside fending for themselves in the elements.

(this repetition is not a mistake, or copy & paste error. As you can see, the cat lives are much the same post-neuter)

Fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

Neutering will not change ingrained behavior patterns.

Cats can still spray, fight each other, and be a nuisance in neighborhoods.

Neutering cats does not change their health outcome living in a high-risk urban outdoor environment.  They can still get preyed upon, hit by cars, and the other bad ends.

Neutering does not change a cat’s diet.  They may still eat birds and wildlife depending on availability of food, food-competition, and hunting drive/instinct.  

Zoonotic disease can be passed on in this way:  A cat hunts a vole or bat.  That vole/bat was carrying rabies.  Or a raccoon is attracted to the cat food, and the territorial cats get in a scuffle with it. The cat shows signs of rabies, but it lives outside so either nobody notices or the cost is prohibitive to seek medical treatment for a cat that isn’t owned.  A dog comes by and the furiously rabid cat aggresses, or a child tries to pet the cat, or a well-meaning person tries to trap the cat to take it to the vet.  The cat bites in any of these scenarios.  You have a dog with rabies, that can spread it to other dogs, cats, and people.  You have a child bitten by a rabid cat.  You get an adult bitten and scratched and having to do lengthy and costly rabies prevention measures.  That’s just three examples.  There are countless diseases and parasites that can travel from cats to other species.

Neutering is not whole-animal health.  The cats will no longer breed, but neutering does not protect from disease or parasites. Or other health concerns.

So what has been accomplished?

An outdoor cat with a high-risk life was neutered, and now is an outdoor cat…With a high-risk life. It doesn’t breed. But people don’t stop dumping pets outside either.  The root cause of the problem has not been resolved.  So even though the TNR cats aren’t reproducing, they can still add more and more to the colony.  Without adoption and death, the colony size either remains the same, or actually grows in size.

This is just a raw outline of the procedure and problem. Stay tuned for more specific details.