This letter was submitted in response to the following article:

To the editor:

Audubon needs to stop loaning traps out to their citizens, allowing those citizens to trap cats, and then instructing them to do what they want with those cats. The town has confirmed that citizens are allowed to “take the cats five miles away and dump them wherever they want,” among other dangerous allowances. This is abandonment, and is illegal in the state of Iowa. For a town to support this behavior is reprehensible, as well as criminal. The only effective, acceptable approach is humane, lifesaving policies for cats that answer the needs of the community—policies communities all over the world are implementing with great success.

Government-approved indiscriminate trapping of cats will lead to abandonment and cruelty for both indoor animals and unowned community cats who live outdoors. That means if an Audubon citizen’s owned cat goes outside, she could be trapped without their knowledge and hauled away to be dumped or even killed. This is needless cruelty when better, community-approved avenues are at Audubon’s fingertips. Alley Cat Allies has offered the town our expertise, assistance, and resources to set up the right, nonlethal, cruelty-free programs to manage community cat populations.

Because beyond the indiscriminate trapping policy’s blatant cruelty, it is also not an  effective way to stabilize or reduce cat populations outdoors. n. When cats are removed from an environment, the remaining untrapped cats continue to breed, and nearby cats and wildlife move in to take advantage of the available food and shelter. As a result, the cat population soon rebounds and can even grow beyond its original size. This is a natural phenomenon known as the Vacuum Effect, and it has been observed in many species.

The only humane and effective way to address community cat populations is through Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, in which cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped for identification, and returned to their outdoor homes to live healthy lives with their feline families—and often with human caregivers. Likewise, the needs of the community regarding owned cats outdoors are best addressed through humane education and community dialogue.

Killing or relocating cats simply will not benefit the Audubon community in any way. TNR will. Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Fairfield, Waterloo, and other communities throughout Iowa already have TNR programs in place, so the blueprints are easily within reach. Audubon can save time, money, and the lives of countless cats by embracing the lifesaving, evidence-based policies that have proven successful across the country and around the world.

Alice Burton
Director of Programs
Alley Cat Allies