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There are Better Solutions for Outdoor Cats Besides the Current "Catch and Kill" Method

Outdoor cats have been part of our landscape for thousands of years, and always will be. Compassionate and effective solutions to help cats and communities coexist peacefully are readily available.

Feral cats, or a better name, community cats, exist in every community. They are the same species as domestic cats, but because they are not socialized to humans they can't be adopted into homes. They live a happy, content life outdoors in family groups called colonies. You may see them ducking behind supermarkets and restaurants, or sunning in your yard, and many of us dig into our wallets to feed them.

The most cost-effective, humane method to help feral cats is through a program called Trap-Neuter-Return. The cats are humane-trapped, surgically altered, vaccinated and returned to their outdoor home. This ends the breeding cycle and helps deter the unwanted behaviors of unfixed cats such as spraying and fighting. Outdoor cats and humans can co-exist peacefully like they have for thousands of years.

Contrary to what some people would like to believe, outdoor cats are not the reason for songbird decline in our country. Loss of habitat due to human encroachment, rampant development and related pollution  cause far more bird deaths than cats. An Ohio State University study concluded that urbanization is the chief cause of declining populations of migratory birds. A 2005 study by the U.S. Forest Service estimates that six times more birds are killed annually by flying into buildings and power lines than by cats.

You may be shocked to learn that being killed in an animal shelter is the number one documented cause of death for cats in the United States. Milwaukee is no exception. Approximately 50 - 60% of all the cats that enter Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission are killed. In 2011 6818 cats entered the "shelter". Of those, 4235 were killed - or 62%. You can see all of the statistics at this link.

The traditional method of "catch and kill" has not worked to reduce the feral cat population. It is cruel, expensive and our tax dollars are funding it. A study done by Alley Cat Allies shows that the majority of Americans do not support the "catch and kill" method of animal sheltering.

Cities across the country are realizing that rather than the endless catch and kill, our tax dollars and donations would be much better spent on Trap-Neuter-Return programs for outdoor cats and low-cost spay and neuter for all cats. Isn't it time for Milwaukee to join the ranks of humane, cost-effective animal control?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

EmpthyCursed September 30, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Boy, all this over a cat..lol. Well, my cat goes outside,is clearly tagged, micro chipped,spayed, has ALL of her regular shots PLUS extra ones and flea drops EVERY month. She goes out everyday. She was found in a wal-mart parking lot as a VERY tiny kitten with a few siblings. Someone decided instead of taking them to someone who cared they were going to scatter them around the lot. Some got run over some didn't. It was aweful. I take very good care of my cat. Two neighbors even let her in their homes from time to time. Anytime kids walk by with their parents or teens afterschool, they give her a ton of attention. Yes, she kills mice,birds and baby bunnies, but she loves ALL people. She has also jumped into our neighbors car (just to help with the groceries). I guess after reading everyones comments, I understand both sides. If you approach the owner CALMLY about a problem you are having with their animal the owner will be less defensive. Some people are dog lovers and some are cat owners either way all animals can be trained you just need to be patient. I apologize to anyone she bothers, but I don't keep her inside all of the time. But, she deserves fresh air too. If she's not in a shelter, she should get her freedom, inside and out.
EmpthyCursed September 30, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I agree. If they have a tag..LEAVE THEM ALONE.
Randy1949 September 30, 2012 at 02:39 AM
No, this is really about the best way to deal with a societal problem in the most economic and ethical way possible. Is it less expensive to catch, spay, and release feral cats who will never have the prospect of becoming pets, or is it not? Some people see them as vermin. others see them as wild animals that serve a purpose (controlling rodents) with a place in the urban ecosystem.
Craig September 30, 2012 at 04:52 AM
EC: Soooo I guess you will not mind when the neighbor's Saint Bernard takes a gigantic crap in your flower garden, pisses on and kills your lawn, and walks on the top of your car? Dogs should not be allowed to run free like a wild animal and the same should apply to cats. FYI: the other night was quite cold....neighbors cat was caught by a serpentine belt, how humane is that? This should be viewed as animal cruelty, on the part of the cat's owner.
Colette Bembenek January 10, 2013 at 06:37 AM
Try Alley Cat Allies ... they have been around for decades and have reams of information about feral cats/feral colonies and more. YOU need to educate thineself and not display your blatant ignorance about 'declaw'..... my God, it's a 'manicure'.....they remove the FIRST JOINT OF EVERY TOE. It's as if someone amputated the first joint of every one of your toes on your feet or your hands; then told you, "Go learn to walk again without pain or work with your hands with the first joint of every finger missing." Speaking of WITCH, you are cold-blooded and need to think less than one- dimensional !

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