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A Case of Letting the Cat out of The Bag—Why Trap-Neuter-Return Is Not an Ethical Solution for Stray Cat (Felis catus) Management

By Heather M. Crawford, Michael C. Calver, Patricia A. Fleming

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs, in which stray cats are captured, neutered and returned to the environment are advocated as a humane, ethical alternative to euthanasia. We review the TNR literature in light of current debate over whether or not there should be further TNR trials in Australia. We revisit the problems arising from stray cats living in association with human habitation and estimate how many stray cats would have to be processed through a scientifically-guided TNR program to avoid high euthanasia rates. We also identify 10 ethical and welfare challenges that have to be addressed: we consider the quality of life for stray cats, where they would live, whether the TNR process itself is stressful, whether TNR cats are vulnerable to injury, parasites and disease, can be medically treated, stray cats’ body condition and diet, and their impacts on people, pet cats, and urban wildlife, especially endemic fauna. We conclude that TNR is unsuitable for Australia in almost all situations because it is unlikely to resolve problems caused by stray cats or meet ethical and welfare challenges. Targeted adoption, early-age desexing, community education initiatives and responsible pet ownership have greater promise to minimize euthanasia, reduce numbers rapidly, and address the identified issues.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 4
Pages 37
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9040171
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/4/171
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal shelters
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Australia
  5. Body condition
  6. Euthanasia
  7. open access
  8. pet adoption
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. Spaying and neutering
  11. stray animals
  12. trap-neuter-release
Badges
  1. open access