Tag Archives: weather

Alley Cat Allies (ACA) Timeline of “Success” [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

30 Jul

I know I told you we would talk about the Glassdoor ACA employee reviews.  And I will.  But first, we need to talk a little more about the history of TNR.  Which, as close as I can tell, is inextricably linked to the history of ACA.  I’m saying, the history of TNR in America is pretty much the history of ACA.

A] ACA is one of the biggest proponents of TNR

They may have started TNR in the United States (see the last post) and the organization has most definitely taken the process mainstream.  On Google search, pretty much any TNR-related term brings back many results from ACA.  I looked 9 pages deep on the Google search, and the results that were not written by ACA or people directly related to it, mentioned ACA in positive terms. TNR is essentially ACA.

B] Timeline of Successes is very subjective

This timeline of successes was written by Alley Cat Allies.  I wanted to see how each project is doing currently, and what I found is a decidedly biased presentation by ACA.  Firstly, a lot of these projects actually leaned heavily on adoption to reduce cat populations.  Secondly, I found the language in each article highly subjective and politically charged.  Calling something a success doesn’t necessarily make it a success.  In fact, I would argue that following ONLY the principles of TNR made each of these projects failures.  I have taken what is on the ACA website and added my own commentary.  

Timeline from AlleyCatAllies.org:

The idea for the organization started in Washington DC in 1990.

By 1993, Alley Cat Allies had developed a set of protocols for Trap-Neuter-Return and veterinary care for community cats, also known as feral cats. These serve as guidelines for more than 4,000 humane societies and shelters.

[my insertion:  the ”feral” is not a synonym for community cats, homeless cats, or stray cats, and implies these cats are not adoptable, which is false] 

By 1998, our first office was opened in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. 

“Through natural attrition and the removal of adoptable cats and kittens, the cat population dwindled from more than fifty-four cats to six over seven years. The last cat from the colony died in 2007 at the age of seventeen.”

                   https://books.google.com/books?                                                   id=wWkpDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT132&lpg=PT132&dq=number+of+cats+and+Adams+Morgan+neighborhood+of+Washington,+DC.&source=bl&ots=ClvkeuF05J&sig=ACfU3U3IKMWdLMnYE83kcfWShAuj4Zo5rw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi166m1467xAhWQwJ4KHWS4AKYQ6AEwG3oECBMQAw#v=onepage&q=number%20of%20cats%20and%20Adams%20Morgan%20neighborhood%20of%20Washington%2C%20DC.&f=false

[Me again:  “Natural attrition” is a euphemism for the cats that left the colony and were not replaced.  Alley Cat Allies and the many biased articles touting TNR do not share specifically what attrition occurred.  It is unknown what percent of the colony died of old age, vs. more terrible fates like hit-by-car, starvation, disease, dog mauling, or the other risks posed to these strays living outside.  It is also not mentioned how many of the cats in the colony were adopted out.

Still me:

Another thing that goes unmentioned in many articles citing this “success story” in Washington D.C. is that the number of stray cats was relatively small- just 54.  We can calculate the rate of colony reduction using their beginning number and the number of cats 7 years into the TNR program:

54 at start minus 6 cats left after seven years = 48 cats had been removed from the colony

48 cats removed divided by 7 years = 6.857 cats reduced per year, about 7/yr.

It’s honestly not that great of a success in my opinion.  And I was left with many questions such as:  Were there concurrent anti-dumping laws that helped stabilize the population through zero new cats joining the colony?  Were any other laws passed that aimed to solve the stray cat problem?  Would cats be removed at the rate of nearly seven per year if the colony started out larger?  How many cats were neutered?  Were cats spayed as well?  What was the cost per cat to sterilize the cats? Does this reflect a financial deal with veterinarians, and if so is the discounted price good long-term?  How many of the 54 cats were adopted? How well was the colony tracked?  What size staff/volunteers did they have? How many caretakers of the colony were there? Were those caretakers consistent, or did the people change or decrease over time? Did any of the cats die from trauma or disease?  Is the 54 cats to 7 figure exactly accurate, or ballpark figures? 

It seems like a very hazy story with so many variables unknown that it’s difficult to attribute the complete removal of the colony to TNR, especially excluding other factors.]

Back to Alley Cat Allies Timeline:

In the year 2000, when Atlantic City’s animal control started trapping and killing cats living under the city’s famous boardwalk, Alley Cat Allies intervened and convinced the public health director, Ron Cash, to endorse a pilot TNR program. Now called the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project™

15).  https://www.alleycat.org/about/history/#:~:text=


In the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy, Alley Cat Allies is mobilizing staff and volunteers to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where clean up and recovery efforts are underway at the Boardwalk after the devastating flooding there.  Specifically, we will help to assure that cats found during rescue efforts will have safe shelter until their caregivers or families are identified or until safe locations or new homes can be found.  We will also vet any injured cats, spay/neuter and vaccinate any cats that may be displaced but who are rescued, and provide supplies and volunteers to help build safe shelters and stations for the Boardwalk cats and other cats adjacent to the Boardwalk.

                             17). https://www.lifewithcats.tv/2012/10/31/


[It’s me:  So right off, the middle of a hurricane described as “devastating” doesn’t sound like the ideal place for cats.  And weather events and temperature are part of the TNR bargain.  Release means after the cats are castrated, they are put back where they were found–outside.  Think about all the dramatic weather forecasts in the U.S. and know that mother-nature is a constant threat to cats living outdoors.  Also, it sounds like many of the surviving cats may have been adopted, but numbers for death, adoption, and continuation in the boardwalk colonies are not provided by the article.]

ACA continues:

When the TNR effort started, there were an estimated 300 stray cats who called the Atlantic City Boardwalk-area home. Nobody knows for sure; that’s a best-guess estimate.  As it’s progressed through the years, [my sidenote:  Article written July 17, 2017, seventeen years after the initial TNR efforts began] Wildman said that population has dwindled to roughly 100. They live in 15 “colonies” spread along a two-mile span of the Boardwalk. 

16). https://www.phillyvoice.com/meet-the-people-who-care-for-


[My sidenote:  For those keeping track.  The boardwalk started with approximately 300 cats and over 17 years reduced to 100.

300 initially minus 100 at the time of this article touting the TNR a success = 200 cats left the colonies.

200 cats reduced out of the colonies divided by 17 years of the TNR program = A decrease of just under 12 cats per year.]

ACA timeline continues:

In 2008 Alley Cat Allies launched a social media campaign that resulted in 208 Facebook friends and 11 Twitter followers. Today, through our online communities of nearly half a million Facebook fans and 21,000 Twitter followers, we can take even swifter action to mobilize our network to protest threats to cats.

15).  https://www.alleycat.org/about/history/#:~:text=


[Here’s my assessment:  Now we’re talking actual, measurable success!  

Facebook 208 to half million 

Twitter from 11 to 21,000 

Social media growth from 2008 to 2021 (13 years) was 49,792 more and 20, 989 more, respectively

49,792 / 208 = 23938.46% increase in Facebook followers!

20,989 / 11 = 190809.09% increase in Twitter followers!

*this is the real success of the organization.]

And given the protest comment, along with the charged language, plus all the law changes implemented across the country, I think this is actually the priority of this organization.  The ACA wants to persuade, recruit, protest, and change laws to start TNR everywhere in America.

NOW the next thing I’ll talk about is the Organization as employer.

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.