Trapped, neutered and released stray and feral cats continue to inflict pain and suffering on native wildlife and people. Hunting cats, not part of the  native ecosystem, torture and kill other animals unnecessarily. Diseased stray and feral cats, when threatened or cornered inadvertently, will bite and scratch to injure, and transmit diseases to people. Why does the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals not care about preventing cruelty in other animals, only cats?

The SPCA’s support for trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs becomes even more bizarre when we consider that TNR also inflicts pain and suffering on cats… yes cats! There is a strange belief that animals alive have better welfare than dead animals, even though they are subject to lives that are cruel. TNR programs inflict suffering on cats.

Stray cats are diseased, full of parasites, and often malnourished towards suffering, pain and death. The life span of feral cats is estimated to be 5 times shorter than owned cats and death rates as high as 80% [1]. Stray and feral cats live cruel, short lives. Moreover, de-sexed cats are less aggressive and less likely to defend themselves. Migrating entire cats, especially males, attack, injure, and displace de-sexed cats.

When de-sexing stray and feral cats, surgeons will inevitably sometimes be de-sexing felines that are late-pregnant. That means killing near birth foetuses of whole litters in a process that is a much slower death than the mother’s euthanasia.

TNR programs are crueller to stray and feral cats than the going to sleep and never waking up again of euthanasia. TNR programs satisfy the animal welfare credentials of only a few self-interested groups. A broader more robust assessment of animal welfare would not support TNR programs for cats in New Zealand.

Yes – they are mad

The claims that advocates of TNR make have been scientifically evaluated and shown to be false several times [2].

A recent socio-psychological survey of people involved in the care of feral cat colonies and TNR programs found their attitudes and motivations to be “rooted in lack of knowledge and mistrust” [3]. I doubt the ‘sanity’ of TNR programs and it seems we should also question whether those that conduct them are rational and reasonable people.

The evidence is in. Dr. Gareth Morgan is right to point the finger at the SPCA for supporting TNR of cats – it is mad. They are mad, quite mad.

Until such time as the SPCA stops TNR they have lost my support. In previous posts I have advocated conservationists engage with animal welfare agencies to help achieve solutions. I do not think the SPCA should be considered amongst those groups for the moment.

Fortunately, not all SPCA centres support TNR – some know it is flawed. Give support to SPCA-Waikato for working with groups to address the cat problem humanely and rationally.

Bob! – take Morgan’s $5 – you will be doing cats and our other animals everywhere a favour.



1 Jessup, D.A. (2004) The welfare of feral cats and wildlife. Javma-Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 225, 1377-1383

2 Longcore, T., et al. (2009) Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by Trap-Neuter-Return. Conservation Biology 23, 887-894

3 Peterson, M.N., et al. (2012) Opinions from the front lines of cat colony management conflict. PLoS One 7