Misinformation costs millions of cats their lives every year. As the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, Alley Cat Allies is working to set the record straight. By educating people on the truth about community cats (also known as feral cats) and combatting the false claims, we can stop the killing.
The facts below call for a world where every cat is valued and protected. A world in which every cat – regardless of whether it lives with people or not – is safe to live its life without threat from humans.
FACT: Cats live outdoors—always have, always will.
Millions of cats share our homes, but not all cats are suited to living inside. For many community cats (also known as feral cats), indoor homes are not an option because they have not been socialized to live with humans. They would be scared and unhappy indoors. Their home is the outdoors—just like squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. They are well suited to their outdoor home.
The truth is that it’s natural for cats to live outside. Find out more about the natural history of the cat and how cats are biologically adapted to living outside.
FACT: The real threats to wildlife don’t meow.
A small group of conservationists claims that cats are such an enormous threat to wildlife that they should be rounded up and killed. Shooting, poisoning, and mass extermination are among the extreme methods they suggest as solutions. Several prominent ecologists point to the fact that cats play an important role in many ecosystems, often stepping in to fill the place of now extinct or greatly diminished small predators. Some point to the helpful roles they play in complex urban ecosystems, in which dumpsters, rats, and mice far outnumber meadows. As for the main threats to wildlife, leading biologists and environmental watchdogs agree: human-led activities—including climate change, habitat destruction, and development—are far and away the number one cause of wildlife depletion.
FACT: Community cats can live long and healthy lives outdoors.
Some people argue that community cats suffer terribly, living short and brutal lives outside. They even go so far as to say that cats are better off dead than allowed to live naturally in their outdoor homes. The truth is that cats can live full and healthy lives outdoors, just like squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.
Many cats live indoors with humans. Other cats live their whole lives outdoors, many with little or no direct contact with humans. Just because some cats live inside, doesn’t mean that we should hunt down and kill those who live outdoors. Outdoor cats deserve a chance to live their lives.
FACT: Public health threat? Nope, not me.
Not surprisingly, people who advocate for the removal of all outdoor cats like to inflate and distort public health concerns stemming from outdoor cats. You are more likely to catch an infectious disease from the person in line with you at the grocery store than from a cat. Research supports what we all know: cats and people can live healthily side-by-side, as we have for thousands of years.
The truth is that community cats are not a public health threat. Find out more about how cats are healthy members of our communities.
FACT: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane and effective approach for community cats.
Attempts to exterminate cats—which have been going on for more than 100 years—only create a vacuum. When cats are removed, the population rebounds as neighboring cats move in and breed back to the capacity of the area, drawing the community into an endless cycle of catching and killing that is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The good news is that, increasingly, animal control agencies and city governments are abandoning this failed “catch and kill” regressive policy and replacing it with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)—humanely trapping, spaying or neutering, vaccinating, and returning cats to their outdoor homes.
This is not only good for the cats, but also balances the needs and concerns of the human communities in which many feral cats live. People don’t want cats rounded up and killed. They want to see the cat population stabilized and mating behaviors curbed. TNR makes great public policy – it is a purposeful and balanced approach that helps improve the coexistence of outdoor cats and humans in their shared communities. This is why so many communities are adopting it.
The truth is that TNR stabilizes cat populations, greatly reduces the number of calls of concern about cats, decreases euthanasia rates at shelters, and saves municipalities money. Find out more about how TNR works.
- Alley Cat Allies Applauds Dismissal of Endangered Species Act Complaint by American Bird Conservancy
- Letter to the Editor: Cats Are Not a Threat
- Letter to the Editor: Killing stray felines is not the answer
- New Film Exposes Animal Cruelty in Australia
- Alley Cat Allies Statement about Journal of Conservation Biology article