SPCA’s cruelty to cats and other animals – Are they mad?

By - Wayne Linklater 30/01/2013

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


0 Responses to “SPCA’s cruelty to cats and other animals – Are they mad?”

  • In response (in brief) to this article & comments.
    I am the founder of a Cat Rescue Group, but not a crazy cat lady. While we are involved in rescue, rehabilitation & rehoming – we also operate a very successful TNR programme. We do not take this responsibility lightly & our primary concern & focus is on the cats welfare, not only in the short term but for the rest of each of their lives.
    Each case is assessed based on it’s unique points & we work very closely with an incredible vet team. We assess the “community” of these so call wild/feral cats.
    This starts with the number of cats, their ages, state of health & the dynamic of the group.
    The environment & ongoing care is the next key. In order to be returned, every community must have:
    Suitable Shelter NOT under a bush or in a hedge but a room/walls shelter such as a barn/ container or specifically built shelters.
    Food – they must have access to water and to be fed a minimum of once a day, a suitable quantity for the cats in the colony NOT a tin of food & first in, best fed.
    Monitoring – they must have a person(s) who signs a contract & agree to manage them for the rest of their life AND watch for any signs of injury or illness.
    Additionally for any New Comers, as Yes I agree that the irresponsible owners, will dump their ‘kittens’ who aren’t so fluffy any more, maybe because they got a new ‘free’ one, or their pregnant female because they can’t be bothered with the hassle.
    We then treat & assess these in the same manner.
    Each cat/kitten will be taken into foster where we asses how ‘wild’ they may be – from this point the determination is made to either rehabilitate & rehome or opt for TNR.
    If TNR is the only option, we use decisive vet care (of course while in foster they will have been given basic treatments) They are checked from top to bottom for general health inc. issues that may be simply treated for a companion cat such as dental health – but which would be essentially cruel for a community cat. IF they pass their medical, they are desexed, vaccinated & tagged. They recover in foster after their surgeries & to ensure the suffer no ill effects from the surgery or vaccine.
    They are then returned to THEIR home.
    If they are showing any symptom of an illness or injury that concerns our vet AND they are deemed after their initial time in foster to be unable to be rehabilitated & rehomed – they will be humanley put to sleep. If they there is no one to take on the ongoing & permanent management & care but are healthy & we believe could be ‘tamed’ they come back into foster & stay with us as long as is required until we can rehome them as barn/mouse cats who given their time in foster can actually be companion/domestic cats, with the best of both worlds. As we keep in regular contact we know that the new predominately rural owners, report many catches of mice, rats, stoats, rabbits NOT birds (as a general rule) so he bigger enemies to NZ native wildlife!
    The key is these cats did not ask to be in this situation, Irresponsible People put them in these situations (it might have been a generation or two before) but it is down to the Responsible people to fix it – Properly – Not just “take them out” for every 1 euthanized, you will find 10 more on the Web for free… some of whom will join the unwanted/stray/feral/wild camp.
    Maybe Mr Morgan & his merry troop would be best to put their energy & money into Education, Desexing (except for licensed/registered breeders) & campaigns about Responsible ownership & assisting groups like our own – who are dedicated, lifelong volunteers who pour all our time, energy, hearts & thousands of dollars (of our own) into doing the right thing!
    As a man way wiser than Mr M, or Mr K put together once said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi
    Euthanasia is a temporary, short sighted, short term solution.
    & that’s it from me – in brief! Thanks