Scruffy the Cat
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area of the community where feral cats don’t roam freely, spraying and fighting to mark and protect their territory, or yowling to attract a mate, you might not think much about the problem unsterilized feral cats present. If stray cats aren’t fighting it out in your backyard, it can be difficult to understand why addressing the issue of feral cats is so important. But it is important, and it’s an issue that must be addressed as a community to ensure it doesn’t become your problem down the road.
What Is Trap-Neuter-Release?
Feral cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, given a Rabies vaccination, have their ears tipped (so they can easily be identified as having been fixed), and then they are released back into the area where they were trapped.
Why Trap-Neuter-Release Programs Are Important
Studies have shown that once feral cats are fixed, populations of new cats decrease dramatically. The population will stabilize in number, and then gradually decline. Sterilization helps quell mating behaviors that can be less-than-desirable for the humans living nearby, like yowling, roaming, spraying, and fighting. It also improves the lives of female cats, as they don’t have to go through a constant cycle of mating and pregnancy. As a result, both males and females live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Why not just euthanize? The truth is that euthanasia is a never-ending and futile effort that fails to actually put a stop to the problem. On the other hand, studies have repeatedly shown that in areas where TNR programs have been put into place, the feral cat population diminishes dramatically within a very short period of time.
What about adoption? While there are some feral cats that are relatively friendly, most ferals have spent their entire life out-of-doors, so sending them into shelters to find adoptive homes usually ends up causing unnecessary stress to the animal and an unhappy outcome. These animals, friendly or not, want to live outside, and they’d prefer to do it in the same area they’ve been living prior to sterilization.
If feral cat populations continue to grow unchecked, what you might think is just your neighbor-down-the-road’s problem will quickly become yours as well. A colony of just 12 unsterilized cats will become 66 in the second year, 382 by year three, and a whopping 2,201 cats by year four. That’s why it’s so important to trap, sterilize, and release while a feral population is small; otherwise, before you know it, that small colony that seemed so harmless will be out-of-control. Now add to that the possibility of the colony contracting highly contagious illnesses that are impossible to treat ferals for, like ringworm or FIV, and you now have a real problem on your hands that can be a threat to your entire community, including your own beloved pets.
What You Can Do
Here at the Franklin County Animal Shelter, we’ve been doing what we can with our limited resources to help people with feral cat problems sterilize those cats and then release them back into the wild. But our resources are already spread thin caring for the stray and surrendered animals within the walls of our shelter, leaving us little to help those animals outside. That’s why your support is so very important.
In honor of our most beloved feral cat ambassador, Scruffy, the Franklin County Animal Shelter has established the Scruffy TNR Fund. Scruffy came to us as an unfriendly feral a couple of years ago. We neutered him, brought him up-to-date on his shots, and released him into our feral colony, as he clearly preferred a life outdoors without people to life as a pet. Over time, Scruffy overcame his unfriendly ways and warmed up to our staff, who care for all of our sterilized ferals’ basic needs year-round. He became an official mascot for the Franklin County Animal Shelter, coming out to greet us each morning and evening, taunting the non-feral adoptable cats from outside the windows of the First Cat Room, and sunning himself on the warm gravel of our back driveway from spring to fall. Sadly, Scruffy was found hit by a car near the shelter this past summer, and he is sorely missed.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 in Scruffy’s name to help fix and release our community’s feral cats. You can contribute via Crowdrise here: The Scruffy TNR Fund. You can also mail funds directly to:
What else can you do? SHARE our Crowdrise link to help us get the word out! Thank you in advance for your support of our areas homeless animals!
Alley Cat Allies — They have a great PDF that breaks down in more detail a lot of the information shared in this post.
Turning Two Cats Into a Million — How the numbers break down
Help for Community Ferals: The Scruffy Fund