This letter to the editor was submitted in response to the following article:

Baytown City Council should affirm its support for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for the community cats in the city’s care.

TNR is the only humane and effective approach to populations of community cats, who are unowned cats who live outdoors. Scientific research has shown that TNR ends the breeding cycle, meaning no new litters of kittens are born outdoors. Through TNR, community cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped to prove they have been part of a TNR program, and returned to their original outdoor homes to live out their lives. TNR is sound public policy because it reduces shelter intake, stops the needless killing of cats, and leads to decreased calls to animal services, all of which save taxpayer dollars.

In developing Baytown’s policy, it would be incorrect and detrimental to apply the definition of “owner” to the compassionate people who provide care for community cats. Community cat caregivers are not the owners of community cats, who are unowned, and they neither create nor maintain the outdoor cat population. Rather, community cat caregivers are good Samaritans who provide a public service with their own time and money, and they deserve appreciation from local officials, animal control agencies, animal shelters, and the public. It would be unfair to impose fines, fees, and other costs of ownership upon them and discourage their critical work.

TNR has become the mainstream approach and the humane standard for all community cat populations. Its popularity is demonstrated by the thousands of communities conducting volunteer-led grassroots TNR programs right now, and the hundreds more that have adopted official TNR ordinances and policies. Baytown has the opportunity to join a very long list of counties and cities in the U.S. in implementing TNR, reflecting the humane values of its citizens, and protecting the lives of cats.

Coryn Julien
Communications Director
Alley Cat Allies