NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I have read your column for years and find it a wonderful resource for animal lovers and pet owners.
Recently, your column has featured numerous articles denouncing the trap-neuter-return method of feral cat population control.
As a lifetime resident of Washington, D.C., I have seen the positive impact that TNR has had on our community and I am very surprised at your position. I would be eager to learn more about what you have personally observed and experienced, and what has led you to believe that TNR is not a humane population-control method.
In my experience, TNR has been an effective and humane approach to the abandoned pet crisis in my area. In my opinion, your columns have not explained the method adequately.
I would appreciate it if you could clarify what approach you think might be best, and address the systems for population control that were in place before TNR.
— H. H-D., Washington, D.C.
Dear H. H-D.: I would say that I have yet to see one scientific study confirming that a well-maintained group of feral cats had no adverse impact on indigenous wildlife, that no cat needing veterinary care was ever left untreated and that the presence of the feral cat colony reduced the number of stray cats in the contiguous community/ecozone, which is a common claim.
I did include a letter in my column advocating horse-barn and hobby-farm placements of feral cats, which I see as a possibility, but not without disease risks to humans, as well as to cats and other animals.
Feeding colonies of outdoor cats also feeds competing wildlife such as raccoons, rats and opossums and sets up a feeding station for wild carnivores — notably coyotes, who are cat eaters.