been almost two years since I reported an attempt by the
American Bird Conservancy to convince mayors in 50 large
American cities that programs to provide for feral cats,
referred to as TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and
return), were contributing to the deaths of hundreds of
millions of wild birds and other animals each year,
including endangered species.
knew it would start a firestorm, and I was right. It
didnít take long for feral cat advocates to strike
I repeatedly claimed to be as neutral as Switzerland on
the issue, people on both sides attacked me personally
for being a cat lover/hater or bird lover/hater. I was
blamed for being responsible for the "deaths of
hundreds of thousands of cats or birds," depending
on whose holy grail they perceived I had stepped on by
reporting the story.
of the people who called from around the country were
more vicious than a frightened feral cat or a blue jay
protecting its nest.
aside, the argument didnít end for several months and
I received dozens and dozens of emails and phone calls
with each side claiming the higher moral ground.
me crazy, but I am going to poke the bear again.
July, representatives from three national organizations
ó the American Bird Conservancy, the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department
of Agriculture ó released an online report titled the
Rabies Prevention and Management of Cats in the Context
of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release Programmes in the
scientific journal, Zoonoses and Public Health.
a recap of the report, the authors refute claims made by
TNVR advocates that say it is possible to reduce the
number of feral cat colonies by management and prevent
them from transmitting rabies to the general public.
has not been shown to reliably reduce feral cat colony
populations because of low implementation rates,
inconsistent maintenance and immigration of unsterilized
cats into colonies," the report reads. Furthermore,
feral cat populations in the United States, estimated to
be between 60 and 100 million free-roaming felines, are
a national health concern with the potential to spread
rabies to humans and especially children who approach
authors advocate the outright extermination of feral
these populations (of feral cats) must be reduced and
eliminated to manage the public health risk of rabies
transmission," according to the report.
you can well imagine, the report has animal advocates
baring their bicuspids in anger, including Best Friends,
one of the leading animal welfare organizations in the
country that denounced the published report.
community has killed its way out of the so-called Ďferal
cat problem,í" Peter J. Wolf, Best Friendsí cat
initiatives analyst, said on the groupís website.
"To imply that lethal roundups are the answer is
not only irresponsible, it ignores reality."
noted that the CDCís own data contradicts the report
citing that since 1960, there has been only one case of
a human contracting rabies from a cat.
the report itself notes that cases of rabies in dogs as
well as cats have dropped since 1946 when "8,384
dogs were found to be rabid compared to only 455 cats.
In 2011, only 70 dogs were documented as being rabid
compared to 303 cats."
points out the irony in all of this.
the authors had their way, (TNVR) would be outlawed,
thereby increasing the number of unsterilized,
unvaccinated cats in our communities. Yet these folks
would have us believe thatís actually good for public
can read a summary of the journal article on the
National Center for Biotechnology Information website at