Published in the Belleville News-Democrat on April 14, 2017.

Feral cats are not abandoned pet cats

Teresa Chagrin of PETA wrongly dismisses Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in her March 5th letter and confuses the difference between feral cats, who are unsocialized to humans and therefore cannot be brought indoors or adopted, and owned pet cats.

Despite her description, feral cats are not homeless—their homes are outdoors where they live and thrive. Unowned feral cats have always been a part of the natural environment outdoors, dating back over 10,000 years ago. It wasn’t even practical for cats to come inside homes as companion animals until spay and neuter services and kitty litter became widely available in the last century.

TNR is the humane and effective approach for managing families of feral cats. TNR includes trapping, spaying or neutering, vaccinating, and returning feral cats to their outdoor home and habitat, which is their natural environment. Returning these cats to the outdoor homes where they belong is far different from animal abandonment. Many municipalities around the nation are increasingly adopting TNR because it is sound public policy.

Feral cats are part of our landscape and always will be. We have a responsibility to find compassionate ways to coexist with all the animals who live amongst us. Suggesting that feral cats should be removed from their outdoor homes into shelters where they will ultimately be killed is not compassionate and no way to ethically treat animals.