As one of the nation’s largest animal rights groups, it’s astonishing that PETA continues to promote myths and misconceptions about feral cats, basically declaring them “better off dead.” (“Don’t Turn Your Back on Feral Cats,” October 18, 2010.) PETA’s promotion of the mass killing of cats is remarkably backwards and out of step.

First and foremost, it is in no animal’s best interest to be killed.

Feral catswho are not socialized to people, and therefore cannot be adoptedhave been living outdoors, in close proximity to humans, for nearly 10,000 years. They thrive in every landscape, from densely populated cities to rural farmland. Feral cats are a part of our community. They always have been, and they always will be.

According to scientists, cats are one of the only animals who domesticated themselveschoosing to live near humans to feed on the rodents attracted by stored grain. Today, we live in an animal-loving society, where Americans go out of their way to care for stray and feral cats. It is our responsibility to ensure that these Good Samaritans are able to find the help they neednot a gas chamber or syringebut information on Trap-Neuter-Return and access to affordable spay/neuter resources.

Trap-Neuter-Return is undeniably gaining attention and support from policymakers, shelter directors, and communities across the country who all agree these cats shouldn’t be killed. It seems ironic that the public opposes PETA in our desire to care for cats and keep them alive.

PETA will tell you the killing is necessary. They will say they are saving feral cats from living miserable lives and dying traumatic deaths, but it’s just not true. Not only have we at Alley Cat Allies had the privilege to see hundreds of cats in perfect health in colonies across the country, performed Trap-Neuter-Return, and hosted feral cat spay/neuter clinics; we also have research that shows feral cats are healthy and validates the merits of Trap-Neuter-Return. Furthermore, Americans just don’t support the killing. In a survey of Americans’ attitudes towards outdoor cats, over 80 percent responded that they believe it is more humane to leave a cat outside than to have her caught and killed.

It’s time our shelter policies and practices reflect the moral and ethical standards we share as Americans; that we don’t want our tax dollars and donations spent on killing animals, but to truly help them. We don’t want more of the same. We want change.