I read a recent post on Care2.com called 3 Secret Horrors of Some Trap-Neuter-Return Programs. I agree with the necessity for discussion of proper practices on TNR and the need to be as conscious as possible for the sake of the animals we’re trying to help, but I regret that the author over simplifies the very complex issue of trapping. Here’s my full comment:
While I agree with some of the authors points, I also feel the need for expansion on some of her very simplistic explanations on trapping and the ethical debate that goes along with it.
I’ve been practicing Trap/Neuter/Return&Place in my community for some time. Pain medication is provided by any responsible clinic. There is a shot given that lasts several days because a truly feral cat often can’t be approached to administer pain meds and won’t necessarily take a pill pocket.
48 hours isn’t enough for a female cat, and even a male cat could use a little R&R for at least 72 hours after surgery. Depending on the set-up, there are larger spaces than the “dirty traps” the cats are caught in. Females undergo a much more invasive surgery and should be kept at least for 5 days.
Spaying full term cats: it is sometimes very difficult to tell if a cat is pregnant at all. Seriously, when they hunker down, as often happens, their sides bulge out. How do we know if she is carrying or chunky? Are we to expect then the clinic will make that decision when the feral cat is already under anesthesia (which is very dangerous for unborn kittens)? Not one trapper I know doesn’t think long and hard when faced with the possibility there is a pregnancy at all, and whether to allow mama to have the kittens if it appears she is about due.
Tame cats through the program? Perhaps the question should really revolve around people who think nothing of letting their cats out doors, particularly when they are not spayed or neutered. This is the direct cause of millions of animals getting killed or sold to laboratory testing facilities (check your states mandate on shelter animals being sold to class B dealers). Additionally, most of the cats “through the program” can be worked with for some level of relationship with humans. Where we run into problems is the lack of appropriate (vetted) adoptive homes, and people willing to put the time and energy into developing a relationship with a cat. We live in a “I want it now” society. Every successful adoption makes way for another cat or kitten to be taken off the streets. However, when trappers aren’t able to place cats there is a limit to the number they can properly care for and they can’t continue their work with TNR. There have been a handful of times where I’ve had to return friendly cats to their (monitored) colony because I can’t hold them in my home.
Of course there are trappers who do not take the responsibility of caring for these animals as seriously as they should, and these are issues that should certainly be discussed; otherwise don’t get into animal rescue.