The cost of feral cats
November 5, 2015
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Of the 50 million feral cats in the United States, about two dozen reside at Solano Community College. It’s easy to ignore them, but feral cats are an expensive issue of animal welfare.
According to SolanoFerals.org, a volunteer organization which helps homeless cats in Solano county, in California, more than $50 million a year (coming largely from taxes) is spent by animal control agencies and shelters for cat-related expenses. The national figure is estimated in the hundreds of millions.
Feral cats also reproduce at a rate of 4.9 kittens per female feral cat a year. This rapid birth rate also means that there won’t be enough resources to contain all these feral cats, according to Solano Ferals. The rapid population increase leads to mass euthanasia.
In California alone, 750,000 to one million animals are euthanized for this reason. And, more than 60 percent of the animals impounded in California shelters die there. Euthanasia is also expensive, costing about $100 per animal. This means California alone spends 75-100 million dollars on euthanizing animals, the Solano Ferals website says.
One solution to control the feral cat population is a method known as Trap-Neuter-Return. In the Trap-Neuter-Return program, feral cats are caught, neutered and returned to the wild. This allows the feral cat to live but not reproduce, thus controlling the feral cat population and sparing the animals life. It’s also about $50 cheaper on average than euthanasia and a more humane approach to feral cat overpopulation.
Critics argue that TNR isn’t effective. Take Part, a digital news and lifestyle magazine and social action platform, says you’d need to “neuter 71 to 94 percent”, of feral cats in an area for TNR to be effective, and according to Take Part that has yet to be done by a program. Letting these cats go could also be problematic if they have a disease, allowing them to potentially spread what they have to other cat populations or humans, according to Take Part.