Feral Cats Ireland

Trap and Remove?

When the number of feral cats increase in an area, whether your back garden, farm, housing estate or workplace, usually the first option people want is for the cats to be removed.  But removed to where?  Most areas are already over run with them and most animal rescues are already filled with tame kittens and cats looking for new homes. Given the sheer number of feral cats in Ireland and the huge volume of calls rescues receive about them, it is just not always possible for rescues to take them in.

Trap and Rehome?

Rehoming feral cats is difficult. When faced with a choice of a cuddly tame purring cat and a hissing spitting feral, most people will choose the former for a pet.  Also feral cats need to be confined in a secure shed or building for at least four weeks at their new home to ensure they remain there when released.  New owners are not always prepared to do that or feel it’s cruel, and misguidedly release them too soon.  The end result of this for the cats is they can find themselves struggling to survive in a completely new and unknown territory as strays with no home or food source. 

Trap and Kill?

Most Rescues are ‘No Kill’, they are about saving lives, not ending them.  They do not believe in putting healthy cats down.  Rescues believe in the prevention of unwanted cats and kittens through spaying and neutering at five months of age.  Besides, trap and kill has been tried in other countries and found not to work.  Why?  Because removing the cats creates what’s called ‘the vacuum effect’.  Because of the number in any given area, other cats will move in on the empty territory, sometimes as soon as 24 hours after the original cats have been removed, begin breeding and the number is soon back to what it was originally.

Trap and Tame?

Taming feral cats is also not a viable option.  Due to its wariness of humans, it can take weeks, months or sometimes years to adequately tame a feral cat for homing.  Therefore it is an impractical exercise and the time and effort is better spent carrying out trap/neuter/return to prevent more feral cats being born. 

Trap/Neuter/Return - The Solution

Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is the most effective and humane solution for feral cats. 

Trap/neuter/return stops the breeding and ends population growth immediately.  The number of cats in an area is controlled and contained and over time declines naturally.  Because the cats are no longer breeding, the undesirable behaviours associated with mating such as yowling, fighting, spraying and wandering are eliminated.  People have no reason to complain about the noise or smell or ever increasing number of cats and no longer have to watch helplessly as young kittens succumb to disease or death.

TNR involves the cats being trapped using a humane trap, brought to a vet where they are spayed/neutered, health checked and treated for parasites such as fleas, lice, worms and ear mites.  Also while the cats are under anaesthetic, the tip of one ear is removed (not all vets do this automatically so do ask).  This is the universal sign to identify them as being neutered or spayed so they are not needlessly trapped again.  After a recovery period of 24 - 36 hours, the cats are returned to their location to continue to live and be fed by caring individuals.

The Solution