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Blog: TNR good for cats and communities (01/29/22)

Should Butler County create a trap-neutral-return (TNR) program? I believe him.

I’m a sucker for stray animals. My family knows it. My friends know. Most importantly, the animals know this and I interact with many stray cats and dogs, especially cats, and have seen many since coming to Poplar Bluff. What surprised me was the lack of resources for them.

This is not to criticize the hardworking staff at the Poplar Bluff Animal Control shelter or the Animal Welfare Association – they are awesome and the AWA is in the process of completing a new facility. But even if these entities had the space to house all the cats in Butler County, feral cats are nearly impossible to adopt, leading to their euthanasia. Eliminating them this way doesn’t suit many people, or even solves the problem of cat overpopulation. New cats simply fill in the empty space. This leaves communities in a cycle of stray cats raising more stray cats, most of which will never be properly socialized with humans and by living outdoors will reduce populations of native birds, reptiles and small mammals . They can also catch and spread harmful diseases to pets.

An effective solution to this is TNR, in which people trap cats in the colony, vaccinate and neuter them, cut off an ear tip to mark them, and then release them where they were found. These cats continue to occupy their territory, but their ability to multiply has disappeared and their risk of rabies is greatly reduced. Fewer kittens also means rescues are not overwhelmed from April to October and the overall population is better controlled. Stray friends are often adopted and live safe and happy lives on the streets.

TNR programs work in conjunction with veterinarians, shelters, and volunteers who care for local cat colonies anyway. Starting one involves talking to local leaders and policy makers to create the appropriate ordinances to keep things running smoothly, and it’s worth it for human communities and community cats to find sustainable ways to live together. TNR programs are a big step in that direction, and there are plenty of online resources like alleycat.org and humanesociety.org with tips on how to champion community cats and start TNR programs.

Samantha Tucker is a staff writer for the Daily American Republic. Contact her at Sticker.dar@gmail.com.