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Letter to the Editor: There's a lot more to saving feral cats

I just read the article in the Feb. 27 Dawson County News regarding the Feral Cat Program in Georgia. This is a very emotional essay that appeals to cat lovers but leaves out the science behind the feral cat trap, neuter and release TNR program.  I wish the other side of this issue was available to our community.

Research conducted by scientists, who happen to be cat lovers and biologists, has shown that the program does not reduce the population of feral cats in spite of their being neutered. The program actually increases feral cats in a colony. One reason is that the colony of cats is not an enclosed system. Other non-neutered cats, which are never captured, freely enter the colony and reproduce, benefiting from the abundant food and water resource.

Another reason for TNR failure is that while well-intentioned folks spend their time and money neutering and releasing feral cats, they simply cannot keep up with the number of non-neutered “household” cats that are allowed outside. In reality, the TNR program perpetuates numerous problems such as disease transmission, property destruction and, especially, small animal predation.

Cats are the No. 1 carriers of rabies among domestic animals. Up to 74 percent of all cats are carriers of the parasite, Toxoplasma gandii, which can cause horrible developmental issues, blindness or death in fetuses.

Cats are the No. 1 source of mortality in small animals, killing 3.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals annually. It’s not just a few mice and rats in a yard. It’s also beneficial insects that pollinate our fruits and vegetables, hummingbirds, snakes, chipmunks, baby bluebirds.  You name it.

For more information on this issue, search American Bird Conservancy cats indoors.

I wish to point out that the Dawson County News article from Feb. 27 is a report of the Forsyth County animal control. Our Dawson County Humane Society does not participate in a TNR program. 

 And I am not contesting the value and goodness of capturing and neutering feral cats that are put up for adoption.

Georgann Schmalz