|Christine (founder and President of Riverfront Cats) feeding Leroy and Lion King|
The subject of homeless cats and how to reverse the burgeoning population and decrease the rate of euthanizing healthy stray cats at animal shelters is gaining traction in Miami! But it also a hot topic. Not because of Miami's prevailing warm weather, but the subject of feral cats and how to address it always raises eyebrows and controversy nationwide. At least there is a growing discussion in our city.
In Miami, Florida, the city is advancing efforts to overcome the plight of homeless cats. In a new measure called TNG, (Yes that is letter "G" like giraffe) a program was launched where the county-run animal services is aiding efforts by residents with the sterilization (spay/neuter) of community cats in areas surrounding their home or work and returning the cats to their neighborhoods.
Recently an article was published in the Miami Herald that discusses some of the controversy surrounding the TNG program. As established bloggers and educators on community cats, we anticipated the negative reaction by organizations such as the Tropical Audubon Society and other bird groups. This is the usual cat vs. bird debate.
Sure it's natural instinct for cats to chase birds. But do they really kill millions of birds? In our expert opinion, no. Our organization promotes TNRM--Trap-Neuter-Return-MANAGE. The "M" is critical as managing the cats is similar to having outdoor pet cats where they are monitored and cared for daily. We know the Riverfront Cats do not destroy property, or create noise disturbance by fighting or yowling, etc. In our observations, the cats are not chasing or hunting birds. Perhaps because they are well fed. If they show signs of sluggishness or illness, the cats are also taken to a veterinarian.
Riverfront Cats was mentioned in this news article speaking to this issue as shown in the video below. The video is ten minutes long and demonstrates that managed cats are happy, healthy, do not create disturbance, and city officials and residents are thankful for our efforts. We are making a difference
Unfortunately our government-run health programs (Ie. Health Department of State of Florida) is often outdated and bird groups rely on antiquated and faulty science in their arguments opposing TNR and TNG.
We turned to Peter Wolf, Cat Initiatives Analyst for Best Friend Animal Society, and founder/blogger for www.voxfelina.com for his commentary:
Something you rarely hear from opponents of “community cat programs” is that no community has ever killed its way out of the “feral cat problem.” Lethal methods have been tried for generations—and have proven costly and ineffective. Not to mention publicly unpalatable. Rather than focusing their efforts on solutions, opponents tend to use scaremongering and pseudoscience to promote their agenda. Claims about the risks free-roaming cats pose to wildlife are often grossly exaggerated, or taken completely out of context. The same is true of many claims concerning the health risks these cats pose to other cats and to humans—lots of hype, but little basis in fact. What’s being done in Miami-Dade County is being done elsewhere, too. There’s a real momentum behind “return-to-field” programs—and for obvious reasons: the public is simply fed up with funding costly, ineffective lethal roundups.
We encourage readers to follow Peter on his blog www.voxfelina.com for important analysis and updates on the growing science behind TNR and other cat initiatives. As an educated community and society, we believe this will only contribute to more discussion and solutions for all cats!