DEAR READERS: If you have been reading this column for any length of time, you know that I oppose the widespread practice of TNVR -- trap, neuter, vaccinate and release -- of unadopted cats. I oppose it on the basis of its inhumane nature, its ineffective track record in managing cat populations, its harm to wildlife and its risks to public health.
The position statement below from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), which amounts to an unqualified endorsement of TNVR, is a response to me calling for all concerned citizens to contact the AAFP and request that the group support the proper feeding, sheltering and medical care of these cats.
Here is a large excerpt from the statement, as posted on the group's website, catvets.com:
"The AAFP supports the humane management of free-roaming cats with the overarching goals of: sustained reductions of unowned free-roaming cat populations over time; improved cat health and well-being; mitigating negative impacts on the environment, wildlife, public health and neighborhoods; and supporting free-roaming cat caregivers and their human-animal bond.
"The AAFP supports reducing the number of free-roaming cats through humane capture, sterilization and appropriate homing ... The AAFP supports nonlethal programs for controlling free-roaming populations. Outdoor access for companion cats should focus on methods that address the goals listed above, including leash-walking and fenced yards or other enclosures when possible.
"The AAFP recognizes that the management of free-roaming cats is complex. The AAFP encourages collaboration between humane groups, conservationists, animal control authorities, caregivers and other stakeholders. The AAFP encourages more interdisciplinary research to increase evidence-based management practices."
Upon reading this statement, I sent an email to Jeff Pane, marketing and communications manager at AAFP.
DR. FOX'S EMAIL TO JEFF PANE: I have looked over the new statement that condones TNVR of feral and unadoptable cats, but find no details as to how such colonies should be cared for by those involved. Should the cats be fed? Should they be restricted to contained areas to protect wildlife? What reference citations support the implicit belief of the AAFP that TNVR reduces overall cat numbers in various communities? I would like answers at your earliest convenience to post in my nationally syndicated column.
J.P. REPLIES: The AAFP does not currently have a position statement developed on how cat colonies should be cared for; as noted in the statement, "The AAFP recognizes that the management of free-roaming cats is complex." However, in the position statement, there is a link to a resource from International Cat Care entitled "Cat Friendly Decision-Making" (icatcare.org/international-cat-care-introduces-new-cat-friendly-decision-making-documents).
DR. FOX'S REPLY, FOR READERS: All involved and concerned should consider the excellent advice and initiatives posted by International Cat Care (website above). We should also seek to involve the AAFP in making TNVR something other than a slow death sentence and life of suffering for unadopted cats, who, being released into communities across the U.S., harm wildlife and put public health at risk. It is surely incumbent upon the AAFP to develop a statement on how cat colonies should be cared for.
There is no freedom for the domestic cat in having to live as a predator, killing in order to survive.
GENE THERAPY FOR CAT POPULATION CONTROL
A single injection of an experimental gene therapy that spurs production of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) prevented pregnancy in six female cats in a study published in Nature Communications (Nature.com, June 6).
If proven safe and effective in larger studies, the gene therapy could offer a nonsurgical alternative for controlling feral cat and dog populations, particularly in under-resourced regions. Reproductive biologist David Pepin is also studying AMH as a possible human contraceptive.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)