P. 642

An Urban Experience
K. Polak1
1Soi Dog Foundation, Phuket, Thailand
Katherine Polak DVM, MS, MPH, DACVPM
167/9 Moo 4, Soi Tambon, Amphur Talang
Mai Khao 10, Thalang District, Phuket, Thailand 83110
There are few issues facing community leaders that
are more dif cult and controversial as community cat management. On one hand, animal welfare enthusiasts want to provide for the welfare of free-roaming cats. On the other hand, local agencies are tasked with protecting public health and animal control. Dissent between feline and wildlife advocates further complicates matters. Community cat management in the form of trap-neuter- return (TNR) is the only proven method to improve
the lives of feral cats, improve their relationships with community members, and effectively decrease the size of colonies over time.
De ning a community cat
“Community cats” are typically a combination of un- owned or semi-owned cats who live outside. They may have been lost or abandoned former pets, feral unsocialized cats, or the offspring of either. Unsterilized community cats are estimated to contribute to roughly 80% of kittens born every year in the US serving as the most signi cant source of cat overpopulation (1). Only 2% of community cats are sterilized, leading to the birth of countless generations of outdoor cats (2). Most community cats are loosely owned whereby they have community members feeding them and/or providing shelter.
Historical management practices
Historically, public agencies have attempted to catch and remove cats which typically involved trapping cats in the community, sheltering, and euthanizing them after a pre-determined holding period. Such conventional approaches were largely ineffective however for long- term change. Non-targeted removal of select animals does little to impact the overall population given the high feline reproductive rate. The transportation, sheltering and euthanasia costs taxpayers millions of dollars in
an endless cycle of catch and kill. In the US, a former present of the National Animal Control Association stated, “What we’re saying is the old standard isn’t good enough anymore. As we’ve seen before, there’s no department that I’m aware of that has enough money in their budget to simply practice the old capture and euthanize policy; nature just keeps having more kittens (3).”
Newer approaches
In the US, Canada, and Europe trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are being implemented to humanely manage community cat populations. Healthy, un-owned cats are sterilized, eartipped, vaccinated, and put back where they were found. The rationale is that if a shelter has limited resources, a healthy cat knows how to survive and should not be euthanized to prevent possible future suffering. Using resources for sterilization has a much larger impact than focusing resources on intake and euthanasia.
How TNR works
In principle, TNR is quite simple. Cats are humanely trapped from their homes in the community and transported to a veterinarian to be sterilized and vaccinated. After recovery, cats are returned back to the area from which they were trapped. Kittens and friendly cats may be adopted into homes.
Proven success
TNR helps decrease the size of cat colonies over time
– During an 11-year study of TNR at the University of Florida, the number of cats on campus declined by 66%, with no new kittens being born after the  rst four years of operation (4).
TNR improves cats’ lives – Following TNR, caregivers report that cats tend to roam less after neutering, which is bene cial for their safety and reduces potential con ict with neighbors. Furthermore, cats are vaccinated which decreases their susceptibility to infectious disease. Mating behaviors such as yowling, spraying, and  ghting also diminish.
Role of local animal shelters
In the US, approximately 6–8 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters annually, with up to 50% being euthanized (5). This  gure rises to nearly 100% for feral cats, who cannot be adopted. Feline-related intake and euthanasia activities cost more than a billion USD annually while doing little to manage the actual cat population in the community or mitigate wildlife issues.
Shelters with high euthanasia rates should re-evaluate their intake policies as they pertain to community

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