Kittens are some of the most adorable things on this green earth, right? Well, yes, until you’ve found the third litter of the summer, and there is simply nowhere for the little creatures to go. Shelters are bulging at the seams due to the bad economy, and funding is being cut by local municipalities, leaving many stray animals without hope of ever finding a safe home. That is unfortunately a problem beyond the scope of this post, but today I want to talk about how to curb the kitten problem.
Have you ever seen a cat roaming your streets and it looks like he’s lost the tip of an ear?
That might look unfortunate, but in reality it’s a very good thing. It means someone in your neighborhood is already working to combat the kitten problem via a program known as TNR, or Trap, Spay, Release. From the ASPCA’s website:
TNR is the method of humanely trapping feral cats, having them spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies, and then returning them to their colony to live out their lives. TNR also involves a colony caretaker who provides food and adequate shelter and monitors the cats’ health. TNR has been shown to be the least costly, as well as the most efficient and humane way of stabilizing feral cat populations.
Many cities across the country have programs in place for people who are trying to lower the feral cat population in this manner. You can often get a trapped stray cared for for free, or in my neighborhood, it is a low 20$. In addition to helping stop the cycle of unwanted kittens, Spayed cats tend to live happily in colonies with fewer instances of disease, injury due to fighting, and starvation. TNR also directly benefits property owners by eliminating what are normally considered nuisance behaviors, like spraying and fighting, and leaves more room in shelters for cats and kittens from other sources, such as people losing their homes. At the end of the day, far fewer animals will wind up being euthanized.
A successful colony does require a person or persons to look after them, especially if there is no readily available food source. If you would like to find out more about how to become this person for your area, check out Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping people control the feral cat population and kitten cycles in the most humane way possible.
(the kitten in the top picture is Lemur, a stray baby who was lucky enough to find a happy home)