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Dilemma: Is TNR = accepting abandoning?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sorry for my bad english, hope you do understand.

We do have now a discussion about homeless/semiferals on my swedish forum.
In Sweden we dont have any TNR. We do usually try to get them in and resocialize. The alternative used sometimes is death, either by the towns employed hunter - or after taking in.
- This mainly a) the harsh winter in most parts of Sweden, b) here are less homeless cats than in many other countries, it is therefore possible to try to take in most of the homeless. c) It happens not seldom people do abandon cats, the word "summercat" (kitten for the summer, after that abandoned and left) is well known as one example. But abandoning cat is socially NOT accepted. No abandoner would ever admit in public he/she has done it. He may admit he did killed the cat, but he wouldnt admit to abandon it.

One of participants on the forum, herself helping and fostering these semiferals, says now: a) the live as homeless is terrible, they are dying by sickedness and even hunger althought people try to help them. Other cats happens dont let them get the food. b) I do work with them, I have always at least one in home with me and resocialize them. But they are trusting me, it is often impossible afterwards to pass them away to other people... So Im stuck with a bunch of ex-ferals, and cant help any more as it is. Not even the tame ones, who are fairly easy to help.
c) In the same time I do help 1 semiferal homeless cat, I could help 10 tame homeless cats.
d) So now I´m beginning to think it is better to take away the ferals/semiferals - it is inhumane to let them die slowly and painfully outside BUT takes too much time to resocialize. And instead concentrate to save the tame cats. 10 saved tame homeless cats on each feral...

I said among other: she, doing a great and wonderful job, did also a mistake: You shall not keep the resocialized ex-ferals! After socializing they shall on to their new families! You may keep one now and then, but NOT as a rule.

Second. What you are saying is it is much better to be dead than semiferal. And it is surely true if they are left without any help, but with a good TNR-programme they do OK, being neutered, and getting some food and help if necessary.

But. They said. All this you say sounds good and fine. But if we have TNR and do say TNR is working, so the abandoners will say: yes, but if they do OK outside, then I CAN abandon. There is no longer any reason for me not to abandon, me abandoning is not giving the cats a horrible death as they say...

What do you say, TNR-people here and fellows forumites??
post #2 of 9
I have had the discussion before about whether it is better to euthanize (kill) the feral cats and kittens that are caught by my foster agency, or to let them live outside after they are spayed and neutered.

I live on a farm, and adopted 3 of the very feral cats. One was severely injured after being here several months, and we thought she may have died. I did see her once later, but have not seen her since. I believe she is living here still, but just staying well hidden from human eyes.

Another is rarely seen, and I really don't know if he is still here and still ok. The third is seen several times per week. He used to run from me if he saw me looking out the window at him, now he looks back at me. He will freeze out in the yard if he sees me, instead of running off.

I am not trying to tame these cats in any way, because they were in the homes of very experienced catlovers, and did not tame. I just feed them and let them live free in my barns.

I think it is better to let them live the dangerous life of an outside cat than to kill them.

But is it better to kill them so people will not be inclined to dump more kitties? I suppose if you consider the sort of person who just dumps a cat, they already believe it is ok. They do think the cat will be just fine. So I don't think killing the feral cats instead of releasing them will make much difference.

Is there anyway you can let your "tamed" ferals become outside cats where you live? I agree with you that it is so much easier to retame a once nice kitty, than to make an adoptable pet out of a true feral. And your house can easily become too full of scared kitties to leave room for the many others you can save.

Thank you for caring for these abandoned cats. TNR is not accepting abandoning, it is simply being a human who is trying to correct the problem created by other thoughtless and cruel humans.
post #3 of 9
I love quoting Nathan Winograd:

Introduction from Nathan Winograd:
They were revered as gods by the ancient Egyptians, persecuted as demons in Europe during the Middle Ages, and have been watched over by dedicated caretakers for hundreds of years. They have even inspired a hit Broadway musical.

No one knows how many there are, or even exactly how to define them. They live in our barns, behind restaurants, in old warehouses, wherever they can find a modicum of shelter, some scraps of food, and a place to bear their young. They are especially common wherever there are transient populations of people: college campuses, military bases, apartment complexes.

In the lexicon of animal sheltering, they are called "feral cats." Popularly, they are known as "barn cats," "alley cats" or "wild cats." Webster's dictionary defines feral as "having escaped from domestication and become wild," but this definition does not cover all the cats we know as feral.

Whatever one calls them, they have a rich and noble history. The oldest known feral cat colony, dating back several hundred years, sits in London's Fitzroy Square, about whom T.S. Eliott wrote his famous poems that inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats," the longest running musical in Broadway history. A visit to the Coliseum in Rome may be inspired by a love of history, but the visit will teach you more about feral cats and the people who feed and care for them (who outnumber the tourists there) than about the great emperors of yore. Some feral cats even come with an Ivy League-caliber pedigree. Hundreds of feral cats living on the campus of Stanford University are cared for and fed daily by the University's prestigious faculty.

In much of the U.S., however, feral cats are often seen as a "nuisance" and are trapped and taken to local shelters where they are routinely killed -- a sad and unfortunate outcome for such a magnificent creature.

But the national consensus is changing. And with it comes the growing recognition that there is only one humane way to reduce the number of feral cats coming into shelters and being killed, and to reduce overall cat and kitten impounds -- and deaths -- in shelters.

Trap/neuter/return (TNR) is not only effective and humane, but it is an integral part of building a no-kill community. For animal control facilities, it is also an essential part of saving money, saving lives, and reducing "nuisance" complaints.

One community went on to spay/neuter over 10,000 feral cats and reduce feral cat deaths by 73%, despite starting with only three traps and five volunteers. Another community reduced overall cat impounds in their city of over 1 million people through the work of an all-volunteer feral cat team. No-kill starts with changing the policies and practices of a community's local shelters. But no-kill is only possible by extending the lifesaving ethic to the alley cats of our communities. TNR works.

But unfortunately, feral cats are blamed for everything from spreading disease to decimating bird populations. One "animal protection organization" has compared them to oil spills or poisons in the environment. Others call for trapping and killing them. One of the largest humane organizations in the nation even called TNR "an inhumane act" and said TNR programs are nothing more than "subsidized abandonment." Is this fair? Or even accurate?

It may surprise even feral cat advocates to learn that cats are not decimating bird populations in the continental U.S.; they are not spreading disease, even in declared "rabies endemic" areas; and, in harsh Northeastern climates, they not only do well -- but they can even thrive -- with or without caretakers.

It is time to end all vestiges of "catch and kill" animal control. TNR is the answer -- an answer to which we must stop pretending there is any legitimate debate.


The whole forum is worth reading...so click the link above.

post #4 of 9
When you TNR, you don't abandon the cats. The caretaker makes sure that they are fed and watered on a daily basis.

I have 8 at home and then know that I feed them, but if anyone else comes around, they scatter to the four winds.

The animals are just knot "dumped off" somewhere, mine came home to my yard, my porch and decent food, fresh water and a blanket tent for the cold.
post #5 of 9
Here is a great answer to your question: http://www.bestfriends.org/archives/...lcats.html#ten

I especially like the part that talks about how people who are ignorant and irresponsible are not likely to look for justifications for their actions. Abandoning a cat is wrong, plain and simple, and the person who abandoned the cat is the one who is responsible for his/her own actions. Those who do TNR are not responsible for other people's irresponsible actions! Feral cat caregivers perform compassionate and even heroic work at considerable personal cost. It is absolutely not their fault if someone chooses to use their hard work as a license to be irresponsible.

As an analogy, would anyone ever say that doctors are to blame for people smoking? After all, doctors treat illnesses like heart disease and lung disease and so if there were no doctors then no one would smoke or do anything else that would harm their health! Obviously this is a ridiculous thing to say. And even if someone did think that it was okay to smoke because the doctor could fix whatever problems smoking caused, no one would blame the doctors for this! It is the same way with TNR.
post #6 of 9
What I've found in the TNR I do (probably around 50-60 cats I've been involved with by now) is that the vast majority of cats have at least one or more caretakers.

Colony 1: Started as 30 cats + kittens, now down to about 5-6 through TNR
Five people feeding, two people directly responsible (one is me).

Colony 2: Ranges from 10-15 cats + kittens.
Two separate homeowners directly responsible, more feeding I'm sure.

Colony 3: About 4-5 cats
One woman directly responsible + me.

Colony 4: Number unknown - maybe 10?
Pet shop has taken responsibility for TNR and feeding, but at least two homeowners supplement this.

Colony 5: About 25 cats
A neighbor was shooting at the cats, so a local group intervened and now the cats (many of which are semi-tame) are basically in the foster system.

....So at least for us, there's a big "gray" area between saying the cats are tame, semi-feral, feral or abandoned. The cats have active caretakers -- in fact, they often have multiple active caretakers. Some cats are actually too fat and VERY social with one caretaker, but no one else. Some of the ferals are at least 5 years old and completely outdoor "wild" cats. Honestly -- we probably spend more money and effort on the tame cats than the wild ones.

When I arrive at a new colony, I often find homeowners who feed the cats, but insist "these are not my cats -- I just don't want them to starve." Well, if you've been feeding them, then it's your responsibility to work with your neighbors to TNR them and provide for them. This is your little community, your little society, your block, your neighborhood. This is a problem in that neighborhood. You're the one with the power to do something positive. If you leave the situation alone and ignore it, it gets worse and creates suffering. There's no option to say "it's not my responsibility." Getting people to understand this is a chore -- but I find that when I work with them on TNR, they respond well to positive results. We're always flooded with cats, so the challenge can be demoralizing, but there's always a glimmer of hope when cats get neutered/spayed and some kittens get adopted.

My main concern with "released" ferals is that we have many caretakers living in temporary housing (apartments), and there's always a good chance that a caretaker might move away. In that circumstance, I think the only options are:

a) Arrange for another person to take direct responsibility for caretaking
b) Re-locate the cats or personally arrange caretaking for them
c) If I couldn't do "a" or "b," I certainly wouldn't let the animals starve, and would consider having them put down if there were no other options. But this would be the worst scenario.

I don't believe TNR is abandonment, but certainly, it's immoral to provide for an animal for months or even years and then stop providing for that animal. If a cat looks sick, or is injured...it needs to be trapped. I've yet to meet a cat that couldn't be trapped with patience, effort, or ingenuity (and tuna fish ). Every situation needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis. If you feel that your actions (or lack of action) would cause an animal to suffer, then certainly, it's your responsibility to find the most humane solution for the animal. And above that, it's the entire community's responsibility to find the most humane solution for the animal. Individual rescuers shouldn't shoulder the burden alone (but often do).

The goal is for the animals to live and be healthy. That takes heavy amounts of effort, but it can be done and there are many easy and hard decisions to make along the way.
post #7 of 9
Among the good resources over at the Alley Cat Allies site:

Caretaking Resources

But more importantly -- tracking sheets:

I think that this kind of documentation isn't just paperwork -- it provides some clear framework and organization to what's being done beyond bringing an animal to a vet and simply releasing it.

We keep this kind of documentation along with photos of each cat and medical records. In fact -- because we were so direct, organized, and responsible, the local rescue group received some VERY generous donations by local residents who supported the effort.

Karma! When you do good things and build up a sense of responsibility in the community (rather than assume all responsibility yourself), people notice and eventually help, which allows you to care for more animals.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Many great answers! Thanks a lot!!!

And especielly Semiferal gives a good comment:

the abandoner usually dont need any excuse. If he wants to abandon - he does.

Therefore it is clear that if he comes with excuse - he would abandon anyway.

my summary:
Cruel is cruel is cruel.
post #9 of 9
That's a good question about what happens when caregivers move. As you can guess it happens all the time. One of my friends has been taking care of two alleys for two years now and is moving next month so she's facing the same situation.

The first - and very good - news here is that while there were initially about 15 cats in one of the alleys, there are now only 6 (many were adopted, a couple disappeared, and one was hit by a car last year). Two of these are tame and she's finding homes for them now. So there will be just 4 cats where three years ago there were 15.

She has found one person who feeds the other alley 3-4 times a week already. She's also made plans to talk to neighbors to find someone who will take over feeding the other alley. It's all going to work out just fine.
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