By Eric Phelps, Community Cats Manager
Community cats are often the largest population of animals dying in the shelter system. But working with compassionate caregivers, our Community Cats Program is able to spay/neuter unsocial cats, vaccinate them, and return them to their outside homes where they can live out their lives healthy and happy. Sick or injured kitties can be rehabilitated, and friendly cats and kittens placed in foster care and eventually into loving homes with families.
We recently learned from The Humane Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic (which is now a program of the ASPCA) that they have cancelled funding for community cat spay/neuter in Buncombe County for any group doing large volume TNR (that is us!) This is a BIG deal.
Last year, we spayed/neutered and vaccinated more than 300 community cats, trapped and found homes for hundreds of friendly cats and kittens, and cared for dozens of injured or sick feral cats. Since we began our Community Cat Program, the cat euthanasia has rate dropped DRAMATICALLY at our county shelter.
With the loss of this funding, all of these services are at risk.
We simply can’t leave unaltered cats out in the field to reproduce or go without the care they need. Our Community Cat program MUST continue its lifesaving work for cats in the areas we serve, and we CAN’T lose the progress we have made together in building a true No-Kill community.
When we launched a campaign last week to raise the funds necessary to continue this program, we received a few emails from folks who don’t believe in the importance of this program. Some of them even believed that all outdoor cats should be euthanized.
We want to see fewer free-roaming cats as much as anyone, and Brother Wolf’s Community Cats Program works hard on a daily basis to cut down on those numbers, humanely and with purpose, through trap-neuter-return (TNR).
Prior to the widespread implementation of TNR programs to manage community cat populations, animal control agencies around the country spent 50+ years addressing the cat overpopulation crisis by half-heartedly trapping community cats and killing them in shelters. The practice needlessly wasted millions of dollars, cost millions of cats their lives, and got nowhere in actually cutting down the numbers of free-roaming cats. Quite the opposite actually.
All that time and money only led to steadily increasing numbers of community cats. Why? Because these programs weren’t closely managed or given a sincere effort to cut down on large numbers of cats. Instead, they were merely a band-aid on a problem that animal control agencies across the country were ill-equipped to deal with. For community cat programs to be successful, it’s takes a community of dedicated individuals working hard to identify problem areas, and diligently and methodically practicing TNR.
We understand that TNR programs are not without controversy. However, the hype surrounding them is often overblown. Human causes — including pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides, and bird collisions with buildings — kill far more birds that free-roaming community cats ever could. Community cats aren’t the problem, but are frequently scapegoated and demonized.
We both want the same thing — fewer community cats — and Brother Wolf is working hard on making that a reality by breaking away from the wasteful old model of needlessly killing cats in favor of a more purposeful and community-driven effort through TNR.