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Katt Hallberg, Published October 13 2010

Thoughtful policies can reduce size of urban feral cat colonies

I am writing in response to West Fargo’s currently tabled issue about signing up with the PAAWS program, as reported in the Oct. 6 Forum, in the hopes of shedding a little light on a benefit of these kinds of programs that wasn’t quite mentioned in the article.

Feral cats, as anyone who has dealt with them knows, live in colonies. These colonies have their own set territories maintained by those within the colony. If someone goes into these areas and just captures and kills off all the cats, that creates a void that – you guessed it – will be filled by other cats that move into that void and begin the process all over again.

By trapping, fixing and releasing the healthy adults back into their particular territory, it maintains that colony. The difference being that it will no longer be an expanding colony but a slowly dwindling one that stills keeps the pest population in check.

The check-ups/vaccines for captured cats tend to ensure that the seriously ill are not released back into the public, as well as providing a local overview of the general health issues of the area that could indeed affect the human populace. This is not necessarily something you would get if you just put the problem to sleep.

While the city may not euthanize every cat it deals with, it still incurs a cost of some sort every time a civil servant has to go out and deal with one. At about $20 a cat for vaccination (with volunteers doing the trapping and the spay/neuter basically “free” to the city since it’s paid for via donations) versus about $30 a cat for the city itself to destroy an animal (not including whatever time and effort was needed to get the animal), I think the TNR-type program is more cost-effective in the end and hope that West Fargo seriously considers taking up this deal.

And perhaps once the problem of feral cats is being dealt with in a humane way, we can start dealing with the problem of the people who don’t take care of their cats in the first place.

I’m as delighted by baby kittens as the next animal lover, but I spayed mine (both rescues) as soon as I was able to. The result over the years has been two cats, no more and no less.

Kittens become cats whether you want them to or not. And if you don’t like that, maybe you shouldn’t be out there getting a kitten in the first place.