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Why it's Important to Trap, Neuter and Release Feral Cats

By PhotoLori on Mar. 30, 2017

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"The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you'll live 10 times longer than if you have 10. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It's truly ridiculous." - Charles Bukowski

Growing up, my high school mascot was the wildcat. Being a cheerleader, I had wildcat images all over the place. Now I have actual wild cats all over my lawn. Who knew that my high school mascot would one day hold even more importance?

I never really gave feral cats much thought. I’d see cats walking down my street, but thought they all had homes and were just outdoor cats. I should have known, though, because both Francis and Peanut were local strays that found their way into our house. Do you think the bowl of food I leave on my porch had anything to do with that? I was floored to learn that there were colonies of wild cats all over the city.

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About two years ago, I started feeding a cute and very timid black cat that I started to call Sammy. I felt so bad for him because he was terrified of people and wouldn’t let me get anywhere near him. And yet he’d sit on my porch and meow at my indoor cats, Francis and Enzo. He was skinny and looked like he had been in a catfight or two because his ear was missing the tip. What I didn’t know at the time is that a clipped ear is the universal sign that a feral cat that has been caught, neutered and released. Makes sense that there would be a sign so everyone knew he wasn’t contributing to the pet overpopulation problem.

Sammy has come a long way, but he still won’t let any humans near. He loves my Enzo, though, and will even come inside to see him. I've learned the hard way never to close the door.

So who takes care of these local feral cats? There are definitely many Good Samaritan types out there who feed a random stray or two, but I always wondered if there was a rescue that specialized in wild cats. Of course there is, and it’s called the Feral Cat Caretakers' Coalition (FCCC).

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The Feral Cat Caretakers’ Coalition was formed in 1997 and is now formally established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Founder Dona Cosgrove Baker says she was "profoundly moved by the suffering of feral cats and kittens.” There was a lack of support and understanding from the community as well. She realized that if feral cat caretakers were organized and collectively supported, they would be a forceful instrument in providing a specialized solution for humane feral cat population control and responsible long-term care.

A large part of the FCCC’s focus is controlling the overpopulation. Baker says, “The costs associated with trapping and euthanasia of feral cats are prohibitive to local governmental agencies. Because of their undomesticated nature, ferals are not considered adoptable and are routinely destroyed in city and county animal shelters. Killing feral cats is inhumane as well as costly and does not solve the problem. The method of trapping, neutering and returning (TNR) has been accepted and endorsed by municipal agencies, animal welfare organizations and the California Veterinary Medical Association as the only successful, proven way to solve the problem of feral cat overpopulation.”

That’s why Sammy’s ear has been clipped. Now the volunteers know he has been trapped and neutered and they can do the same for another cat. According to the FCCC, “Solving the overpopulation of feral cats and improving their lives depends upon the dedication and commitment of caretakers. In turn, the caretakers’ success in achieving these goals requires support, services, training, networking and supplemental resources to provide quality feral cat care and acceptable long term care alternatives.”

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The organization has workshops to teach volunteers how to help tackle the feral cat overpopulation problem. If you are interested in helping, take a look at their website for more information.

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If you're in the Los Angeles area and want to adopt a kitten that has been rescued, there are many wonderful cat rescues from which to choose. Kitty Bungalow is a great place to start. They have many wonderful young and adult cats ready for adoption. And they always need foster homes. Best Friends Animal Society has a kitten nursery and also has a wonderful foster program. And, of course, lots of former stray kittens in need of homes.

MollyMuttMeow035.jpgIf you'd like to adopt a pet, learn more about our upcoming adoption events.

You can also put your love into action and make a donation today to help make a difference in the lives of animals.

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About the Author
  • Lori Fusaro has worked as a photographer since 1996. Her boutique studio, Fusaro Photography, is based in Los Angeles, CA, where she is well known for her lifestyle portraiture of pets. She was honored as the top portrait photographer in the L.A. area for four consecutive years and her work has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show Pets, In Touch Magazine and in the book ‘So You Want To Be A Pet Photographer’. Lori has a soft spot for seniors and her book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts is a National Best Seller.
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