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Showing compassion for community cats

Photo credit: Jason Putsche

Showing compassion for community cats

(NAPS)-It is no secret that Americans love house cats. Research estimates that more than one-third of all U.S. households have one or more cats as pets. However, what may be less well known is that this affection does not end with house cats.
Caring For Outdoor Cats
"Americans care about outdoor cats, too, and want to help them," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, an advocacy group. "Research shows that 40 percent of Americans have fed a stray cat at least once in their lives. Millions provide this help every day, making sure the outdoor cats in their communities have food, water and simple shelter."
Most of these cats cannot be adopted into homes because they are not socialized to people. These cats are known as "feral" cats and are the same species as domestic cats, but are not accustomed to life indoors. Instead, they live outdoors in family groups called colonies.
Science, said Robinson, shows feral cats can be just as healthy and live the same long lives as pet cats, content in their outdoor homes.
The traditional response to feral cats is called "catch and kill." More than 70 percent of all cats taken to animal pounds and shelters are killed there. For unadoptable feral cats, impoundment in a shelter almost always means a death sentence. This approach, say critics, is very costly and cruel, and it doesn't work to control the cats' numbers.
A Better Approach
In the past two decades, many communities across the country have rejected catch and kill in favor of Trap-Neuter-Return, a program that ends the breeding cycle humanely while respecting the cats' natural life outdoors.
Benefits Cited
The experts at Alley Cat Allies say that communities that have embraced Trap-Neuter-Return see huge benefits. The cats are neutered, which means no more litters of kittens. They're vaccinated, which broadens already successful public health efforts for rabies prevention. The cats also become better neighbors, because once they are returned to their colony, behaviors associated with mating cats-such as yowling and fighting-cease. Cats in Trap-Neuter-Return programs have an "eartip"-a small portion of the left ear is removed while under anaesthesia-to indicate they've been neutered and vaccinated.
According to Robinson, Trap- Neuter-Return respects Americans' empathy for the four-legged creatures who share their neighborhoods. "We are an animal-loving society. Americans want compassionate and commonsense approaches to outdoor cats," she said.
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