An ordinance to re-classify feral cats to “community cats,” and people who feed them from “owners” to “community cat caregivers” has failed in a small town in Nebraska. People who care for feral cats in the town of Blair will still be considered owners under Blair’s pet limit law. This is especially bad news because it prevents people from really bringing Blair’s feral cat population under control.
The first reading of the proposal, which happened on Nov. 10, was approved, however, on Nov. 24, the council voted the measure down. In addition to allowing people to care for an unlimited number of free-ranging cats, it would have required that these cats be part of a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program. These programs have seen resounding success in bringing down the numbers of cats in shelters, and the number of free-ranging cats in communities.
For instance, a city in New Jersey saw an absolutely astonishing reduction in its free-ranging cat population after just one year with a TNR program in place. Out in Arizona, Pima Animal Care and Control, in Tucson, is no longer overcrowded with cats. The cat population at the Atlantic City Boardwalk has been slowly shrinking over the last decade, thanks to Alley Cat Allies.
Volunteers in Blair have been engaging in TNR for several years, even though they technically aren’t supposed to. Since 2012, they’ve trapped, sterilized and returned over 1,000 cats. These people got involved in it because they were looking for a humane solution to the cat population problem in Washington County.
TNR doesn’t just help stabilize, and then shrink, feral cat populations. It also reduces annoying behavior, like fighting, howling, and spraying. Cats are also vaccinated, so it cuts down on disease, too. It also doesn’t create the vacuum effect that extermination does, and it doesn’t tax the resources of local shelters.
Hopefully, Blair will be able to pass something regarding TNR soon, so more people will be able to care for more cats and bring their problem under control.