For Immediate Release: September 26, 2007
Contact: ELIZABETH PAROWSKI, email@example.com or 240-482-1984; FRANCIE ISRAELI, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-207-1134
Experts Urge Compassion and Common Sense for Outdoor Cats
Residents, Vets and City Officials among Attendees of McPherson Workshop
(McPherson, KS) September 26 – Feral and stray cats were the stars of the show this past
Sunday afternoon at the McPherson Opera House.
The national nonprofit organization Alley Cat Allies, along with Sedgwick-based Friends
of Felines, held a workshop on September 23 for residents and animal control
policymakers to talk about how to reduce the number of outdoor cats in the community.
Currently, most strays and ferals are caught and killed. The groups say this practice is
expensive and doesn’t work.
“When animal control catches a dozen strays, a dozen more will simply come and take
their place,” said Becky Robinson, president of Washington, D.C.-based Alley Cat Allies
and a native of McPherson. “The single female cat who escapes being caught can go on
to have as many as four litters of kittens in just one year. Catching cats to impound or
kill them just feeds a vicious cycle.”
The problem is especially true for feral cats, outdoor cats who are unsocialized to
humans. Many area residents feed or care for these cats, who often live in family
“Most of these cats can’t be adopted, so taking them to an animal shelter makes no
sense,” said Ray Huff, founder of Friends of Felines and the chief of police for Sedgwick.
“It is an enormous waste of resources.”
Huff and Robinson addressed a crowd of about 30 residents from all around the Central
Kansas area on Sunday afternoon, including three local veterinarians, McPherson city
streets and utilities commissioner Michael B. Alkire, and officials from four area humane
societies. Part of the talk focused on the benefits of an alternative called Trap-Neuter-
Return (TNR), in which stray and feral cats are humanely trapped by community
volunteers, sterilized and vaccinated by veterinarians who participate in these programs,
and returned to their colony. Cats and kittens who show an inclination to be friendly
toward people are put up for adoption.
Robinson and Huff said studies show the TNR method to be more effective in reducing
the number of strays and feral cats in alleyways and our backyards through attrition.
“Sterilized cats can’t breed, so more kittens aren’t being born,” said Huff. “Spaying and
neutering also ends annoying behaviors associated with cats in the neighborhood, like
yowling and marking territory.”
Huff founded his group, Friends of Felines, in 2003. The all-volunteer group has spayed
and neutered over 300 cats in Sedgwick and surrounding areas, and several hundred more
in surrounding states. Friends of Felines helps provide materials and training to local
residents, recruits local veterinarians and buys vaccines in bulk for distribution to the
vets. In 2006, the group was instrumental in the passage of a Sedgwick city proclamation
Robinson – whose aunt, Mary Ann Robinson, founded McPherson’s first humane society
– co-founded Alley Cat Allies in 1990. She was living in Washington, D.C. at the time
and working on several animal rights issues when she began to recognize that the
overwhelming number of animals being killed in shelters were feral cats, year after year.
“I knew there had to be a better way,” she said.
Robinson discovered that several countries, including the United Kingdom and Denmark,
have been implementing TNR for decades, with great success. Case studies on those
countries show that it is less expensive and more effective to trap and neuter than to trap
and kill, Robinson said. Several cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C.,
have used TNR to reduce the number of feral cats and have been pleased with the results.
“Counties and local municipalities would be well-served to recognize that it is a far better
use of taxpayer resources to subsidize sterilization of all domestic animals, owned and
unowned,” Robinson said. She noted that part of the purpose of the workshop was to
encourage local residents to press lawmakers for a change in animal control policies.
“In essence, this issue is about our humanity. Humans are naturally empathetic and I
think the overwhelming majority of us can’t sit back and let beautiful animals be put to
death for no reason at all,” she said. “But it certainly speaks to the logic of TNR that it is
the cheaper solution as well as the most humane.”
Huff added that the most difficult part of a TNR program is the recruitment of vets.
“We’ve seen firsthand that people are more than willing to help when they have a fuller
picture of the issue,” he said. “But Kansas does not have enough private-practice vets.
We need the government’s support to truly make this work.”
About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is www.alleycat.org.