In 2018, WAG started a TNR Program, in which we began live trapping feral cats in our county, Calhoun County, West Virginia, and spaying/neutering them. WAG also vaccinates them with the FVRCP “feline distemper vaccine” and rabies vaccine, and treats them for ear mites/fleas/worms and any illnesses/injuries, before returning them to their colony location. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a caretaker of a Calhoun County, WV feral cat colony.
We would greatly appreciate any donations of humane live animal traps of the approximate size 10 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 32 inches long – even if they need repair. The Havahart Woodstream model 1079 is a good example of a well-made trap that will last a long time.
Some residents have told us they would prefer that we catch the feral cats and either kill or relocate them. This would not only be cruel, but would actually make the situation worse, and here is why.
Outdoor cats choose to make their homes (colonies) where they can find food and shelter. They guard these areas and keep all new arrivals away. Well documented studies show that removing even a portion of these feral cats from these areas creates a “vacuum effect”. Cats from neighboring areas move into the newly available space to take advantage of the same resources that attracted the first group (shelter and food). These new cats soon begin to breed to capacity and before long just as many cats can be found in the area as before. Killing or removing the original population does nothing to eliminate these resources; it only creates a “vacuum” that will inevitably draw in other animals living nearby. Scientific research has observed the vacuum effect across many species. Animal control officers all over the country have observed the ineffectiveness of lethal methods firsthand over the years. Cities and shelters across America have experienced great success with Trap-Neuter-Return—it is now official policy for feral cats in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Chicago.
Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes feral cat populations, which then decreases over time. The cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and spayed/neutered, so no more kittens will be born. They are then returned to their original location to live out their lives in their outdoor home. Not only is Trap-Neuter-Return the humane option for feral cats, it also improves cats’ lives by relieving them of the stresses of mating and pregnancy. In the end, unlike catch and kill, Trap-Neuter-Return works.