VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Glenn Johnson, Mayor
Port Neches City Council
City of Port Neches
1005 Merriman St
Port Neches, TX 77651
Dear Mayor Johnson & Members of the City Council,
Alley Cat Allies is reaching out to express our deep concerns about the recently passed feeding ban by the City of Port Neches. Feeding bans are ineffective: they do not eliminate cats from an area, they penalize the people most willing to help, and they prevent the only humane and effective approach to managing community cat (also known as feral cat) populations, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). We strongly recommend against this feeding ban and urge you to support TNR instead.
Alley Cat Allies is the global engine of change for cats. We protect and improve cats’ lives through our innovative, cutting-edge programs. We are seen around the world as a champion for the humane treatment of all cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies regularly works with lawmakers, animal shelters, and the public to change attitudes and advance lifesaving laws and policies that best serve the interest of cats. We offer the opportunity to provide our expertise and resources to Port Neches.
Feeding Bans are Ineffective
Feeding bans do not work and are not supported by science. Community cat populations are not dependent on people feeding because there are always other food sources available that are a byproduct of human habitation and activity.1,2 Furthermore, cats are territorial, bonded to their surroundings, and will not disappear simply because caring individuals can no longer legally feed them. A feeding ban will result in cats becoming more visible as they roam to find food, which can often lead to increased calls to animal control.
Feeding bans are also very difficult to enforce since they are complaint-driven. They are punitive and tend to direct resources towards administrative tasks like enforcement and away from incentive-based programs that encourage sterilization. Ultimately, ineffective ordinances and policies, like feeding bans, are a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Trap-Neuter-Return – The Mainstream Approach
If Port Neches seeks to manage the community cat population, then TNR is the only humane and effective solution. Like owned companion cats, community cats belong to the domestic cat species (Felis catus). However, community cats are generally not socialized—or friendly—to people and cannot be adopted or adjust to living inside.
Trapping and removing community cats is a cruel and ineffective animal control policy. Scientific evidence indicates that removing community cat populations only opens up the habitat and resources to an influx of new intact and unvaccinated cats, either from neighboring territories or born from survivors. Each time cats are removed, the population will rebound through a natural phenomenon known as the “vacuum effect,” drawing the community into a costly, endless cycle of trapping and killing.3
In contrast, TNR is an effective and non-lethal program, supported by the majority of Americans. During TNR, community cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped for identification, and returned to their outdoor homes. According to a 2017 Harris Interactive poll, 84 percent of Americans prefer that their community use tax dollars to adopt sterilization as its cat control policy instead of bringing cats found outdoors into shelters to be killed.
TNR is proven to stabilize community cat populations by stopping the cycle of reproduction; improve public health through vaccinations; and benefit animal control agencies and shelters by reducing cat intake and calls of concern. Today, hundreds of municipalities have adopted TNR ordinances or policies, and thousands more are conducting grassroots, volunteer-led programs. There are a number of communities in Texas that have embraced TNR, including Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other smaller cities and counties.
Feeding bans interfere with this important means of population control because organized feeding is a necessary part of TNR. If caregivers are prohibited from feeding, it makes it difficult to trap cats, which ultimately leads to fewer spays and neuters taking place. As a result, these laws are counterproductive to the goal of managing the community cat population.
Caregivers are Not Owners
Caregivers who feed community cats and conduct TNR neither create nor maintain the community cat population. Rather, they are good Samaritans. These individuals who do the most to help unowned cats and the community—including spending their own time and money to spay and neuter and organize foster programs for adoptable cats and kittens—are the ones most targeted and punished by a feeding ban.
The feeding ban will not make cats disappear. Instead, it will discourage well-meaning people from caring for cats and participating in TNR because they fear the legal consequences. We urge you not to punish the compassionate people of Port Neches who spend their own money and time caring for these cats and ensure they are spayed and neutered. We ask that you reconsider this harmful ordinance and support TNR instead.
Alley Cat Allies is here to offer support in finding other solutions that humanely and effectively address any problems or concerns you have. I am happy to provide any other information that would be helpful, and I hope to hear from you soon.
1 Haspel and Calhoon, Home Ranges of Free-Ranging Cats (Felis catus) in Brooklyn, New York. Canadian Journal of Zoology Vol 178, 1989.
2 Liberg, Olaf, Mikael Sandell, Dominique Pontier, and Eugenia Natoli. “Density, Spatial Organization and Reproductive Tactics in the Domestic Cat and Other Felids.” In The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour, Second Edition, edited by Dennis C. Turner and Patrick Bateson, 119-148. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
3 Zaunbrecher, K.L., D.V.M., & Smith, R.E., D.V.M., M.P.H. “Neutering of feral cats as an alternative to eradication programs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 203 no. 3 (1993).