Hello, and thank you for your coverage of the cat issues in Hennepin.
I’m an Illinois resident who is very concerned about free-roaming cats and the trap-neuter-release (TNR) movement that is being touted as a solution.
Allowing cats to roam free, even when TNR’d offed in “colonies,” presents a number of issues for cats, wildlife, and residents, many of which I’ve experienced firsthand in my community here in Broadview.
First, the health and welfare of the cats are at risk. I’ve seen several cats killed on the street, including a tiny kitten.
According to many animal-welfare organizations, leaving cats out to roam is a danger to their health and well-being. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “The welfare of free-roaming) cats may be significantly diminished. Their life expectancy is radically reduced due to death from trauma, disease, starvation, and weather extremes. These same factors may also contribute to an overall poor quality of life.”
Second, free-roaming cats present clear dangers to native birds and small mammals. Organizations like the Wildlife Society, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the American Bird Conservancy agree that cats pose a serious threat to wildlife. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “Feline abandonment and feral cat populations adversely affect wildlife, ecosystems, and public health.”
In my involvement with animal rescue, both wild and domestic, I’ve seen many instances of cat attacks, including on my own birds who were in their cage in my fenced-in yard.
When wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, and opossums, make use of TNR feeding stations, interactions can result in injuries as well as the spread of diseases. These stations also artificially increase the carrying capacity of the environment for both wild and domesticated species.
Australia’s rampant cat problems should be a sobering lesson to U.S. communities, lest our wildlife also be decimated by free-roaming cats.
Third, free-roaming cats present a health threat and nuisance for residents. As I’ve experienced, they leave droppings in flower beds and gardens and urinate on buildings. Free-roaming cat feces can carry diseases including roundworm and toxoplasmosis. Bacteria in their claws can lead to infections in people, pets, or wildlife.
Their saliva can transmit rabies, and a rabid cat may act friendly before attacking. In one study, 80 percent of people treated for possible rabies cases had been in contact with free-roaming cats.
The cats themselves can also carry fleas and other external parasites. Community members here complain of their dogs getting fleas and other parasites from free-roaming cats.
For public health reasons, it is best to remove free-roaming cats from the environment.
Two humane, non-lethal solutions that adequately address the issues above include placing the animals in either a Catio (catiospaces.com) or in a fenced-in area that uses a system similar to the Oscillot (https://oscillot.com.au/).
For a compilation of information on why TNR is not an effective solution, go to tnrrealitycheck.com.
I applaud Hennepin for your stand on this divisive issue.