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Cats Under Attack! TNR, TB, Toxo & Talkback

by | Apr 4, 2014 | Cat Behavior & Care | 34 comments


Managed feral cats can live healthy lives. Image Copr. Sapphire Dream/Flickr

Hating cats, and especially hating feral cats has become a hot topic. No, I don’t mean my cats have turned on me, although Seren and Karma have yet to call a truce. Actually, the past week or so has been filled with an array of articles, posts, and flame-war discussions denigrating cats as well as those who attempt to help them.



This isn’t new. Cats have been the scapegoat for many of the world’s ills. Perhaps it’s because our felines have such great success surviving what would fell lesser creatures. After all, there’s a reason that “9 lives” myth has been repeated for eons. Read more here about cat myth-teries debunked.

Cats, particular the issue of ferals and TNR, seem to bring out all the trolls. For more on TNR, read this blog post.


News outlets eager to sell stories and get more eyeballs on their venues often duck fact-checking and opt for hand-waving sensationalism. So cats are blamed for:

  • rabies (despite the fact that wildlife reservoirs–bats, raccoons, foxes–are the more likely host)
  • “crazy brain disease” and being baby-killers due to toxoplasmosis (despite the fact most humans harbor this without any problem, as a result of eating rare meat–and it’s easily preventable with just modest hygiene)
  • Bird predation (despite human destruction of habitat and other critters–like rats and snakes–impact birds at much higher rates).
  • And now, a scare that cats transmitted tuberculosis to people, via contact with badgers. (?!) “We don’ need no stinkin’ badgers!” (sorry, couldn’t resist but it’s NOT funny)

The anti-TNR folks point to these issues to convince us lethal means–usually poisoning–of feral cats should be implemented. That’s worked SO WELL over the past 100+ years (NOT!). The results have been ineffective, inhumane and costly.

My owned cats Seren and Karma stay inside, not to protect the wildlife from them, but to protect them from the wildlife. I agree that companion cats merit protection. But so do feral felines, who through no fault of their own, live life on the wild side. And truth be told, both Seren and Karma were but one paw-step away from living that wild side life, and being the targets of cat haters.

Sound harsh? So sue me.


TNR is not a “single” thing. It’s an all-encompassing effort that not only trap-neuter-returns but also adopts out the adoptable “strays” that wander in or get dumped, places kittens able to adapt as pets, euthanizes the un-save-able, and helps relieve the burden for local animal welfare organizations. So according to some, TNR is a “failure” because cat colonies don’t go away simply with the trap-neuter-return portions of the equation.


Is TNR perfect? No. Is killing cats a perfect solution? No. Are there valid arguments on both sides? Of course. That’s always the case when the situation isn’t black and white, but instead all shades of gray, tabby, calico and more.


Here’s my response to one thread of comments:

“I’m delighted there are so many here who claim to have the best interests of cats (shelter, stray, feral, pet) at heart. And I’m saddened that rather than working together to help the situation, great pains are taken to denigrate any effort. It’s very easy (on both sides) to pick and choose the “facts” one wishes to spotlight in an effort to support an argument and point fingers how WRONG WRONG WRONG the other party is. Rather than allow emotions to run the show, it’s a much more difficult — and ultimately rewarding and ethical –stance to offer a balanced look. Rather than point out the shortcomings and condemning a particular practice based on the FAILURE, why not look at the successes, analyze why they worked and how to improve these efforts?

That might actually make the positive difference all parties purport to want.

Thank you to those who truly do want what’s best for the cats. Your passion could indeed make a positive difference for cats. They’re the innocent victims in this tug-o-war.

And as far as I can see, cats and cat lovers (on both sides) lose the battle when all that matters is who can shout loudest. True journalism, it seems, is dead and advertorials have inherited the hand-waving space.”

I’m tired of having to quash the bad information each time it’s resurrected by folks who ignore reality. And I’m sickened by those who use these issues in a war against companion animals who argue that it’s more ‘humane’ to trap and kill feral cats, rather than to manage colonies in which healthy cats unable to accept human companions live for a decade or longer. Properly cared for feral colonies provide a protective barrier from diseased animals (and other cats)–because as we know, kitties chase away “stranger danger” and only reluctantly accept in newbies to the fold. Seren drives that home every day with her c’attitude toward Karma. Of course, the operative words there are “properly managed/cared for.”


Here are just some of the recent stories, with commentary, that have been published. Some make valid points, although I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions. There also have been some solid rebuttals.

The Evil Of Outdoor Cats is the story that started the recent furor, and here’s the author’s follow up with some more response and a nicely composed Response from CWA Member Anne Moss and from well known pet expert Steve Dale.

TB Caught from Cats and a vet’s warning about More To Come (notice how the vet says it’s low risk–but the headlines trumpet something else.)

No Evidence to Support Killing Feral Cats offers a great response from Peter Wolf with facts and figures to back it up

I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves. Some of my colleagues have speculated we’re in the middle of an orchestrated PR campaign against TNR and cats in general. What do you think? Do our responses to these stories fuel the fire? Are we preaching to the choir without any chance to change minds?

Oh, and I have no doubt the trolls will come out in force. So in advance, y’all can refer to my comments policy here.


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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!


  1. Tanya Kuritz

    I enjoyed your response and do not want to go in-depth about small shortcomings since those are always in the eye of the beholder. The recent anti-cat campaigns have been eroding many minds. Personally, I know an official in pet welfare (SIC!) who recently told me about hating cats since they kill birds. Or a woman who decided to adopt a special pathogen-free cat (from a cattery which guarantees lack of disease) and backed off telling me that she was planning to have another baby, and her mother and relatives told her that the cat will kill the baby by bringing in toxo. The sad part is that the parents and most of the relatives of that lady are farmers and grow own pork and do not care about toxo from the soil or meat. Those examples are extremes but indeed the campaign has been affecting many minds. The debate about population control should be removed from the area of sensationalism and continue in the community of professionals where it belongs.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks Tanya, you’re right it’s a very complex issue and I’ve used a lot of “shorthand” rather than going in depth on everything. I’m not sure why loving cats and loving birds must be mutually exclusive–or that folks don’t realize proper intro of pets to human infants has sooo many health and emotional benefits (reduced chance of allergies, for one).

      • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

        It’s not, nor has it ever been, merely a question of ‘cats vs. birds.’ That’s the standard oversimplification of myopic cat advocates who can’t imagine that anyone else isn’t as devoted to a single species (or taxonomic class, in the case of birds) than they themselves are.

        It’s a question of highly destructive invasive species and its documented deleterious effects on entire assemblages of naturally-occurring wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and arthropods. Consider a synopsis from one peer-reviewed scientific study. Note that certain phrases are capitalized by me, not to ‘SHOUT’, but to EMPHASIZE:

        An Israeli study and others referenced therein clearly demonstrate the destruction invasive felines inflict on native fauna assemblages to a reasonable person:

        [SYNOPSIS REDACTED: Readers may access the link provided to the PDF of the study, if they wish–the poster’s conclusions remain, below]

        We can take away from just this one study (I have plenty more to offer) that the following common lies by TNR advocate are refuted:

        (1) ‘Cat predation on birds is overstated.’

        Answer–if an observed 50% reduction constitutes an ‘overstatement’ of the damage, what would you regard as NOT overstated? 75% 99%?

        Crooks and Soule’s study concluded that the level of predation by at-liberty house cats was not only not ‘overstated’, it’s not sustainable in our increasingly fragmented wildlife habitats.

        (2) ‘Cats control pests’

        On the contrary, this study shows that feral cats not only reduced rodent diversity by half, it promoted their displacement by another invasive and highly deleterious species, the house mouse, and enabled them to expand. That is NOT a change for the better in terms of public health. Several other studies of the effects of the cat-vectored parasite T. gondii on rodents indicates cats don’t control rodents–they attract them.

        I have not been ‘abusive’ or in any way that I can see violated your ‘comments’ policy here, and I post under my real name. If you delete my post, all you’re proving is that your arguments are unable to withstand exposure to contrary views.


        Al-Hajji F. H. Minshall

        • Amy Shojai

          Thank you for your detailed information and responses on the subject. I agree with much of what you state–the “cats vs birds” is a shorthand oversimplification by both parties, when indeed, cat predation (by your own quoted statistics here and elsewhere) destroys…”1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and from 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals in the U.S. annually.” In other words, birds are far less than half of prey animals taken by cat predation. Why do people scream about birds vs cats? It’s sexier to save cute fluffy kitties or brilliantly plumed birds we can imagine in our homes, than advocating for rats or lizards or other critters.

          Humans, I suspect, are by far the most damaging invasive species of all.

          Yes, I’ve allowed your posts, particularly since you’ve been (mostly) respectful. I suspect again that the many sides of these arguments believe their opponents’ views to be myopic…I’ve been called worse. And since we do not know each other, I will allow all the comments. I admire and respect your advocacy for your chosen field. Please respect mine as well. We both are after the same thing–respect for nature, for God’s creatures whatever their species, and seeking a solution so that all may have what they need to survive.

          • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

            Thank you for being tolerant of opposing views to at least allow others the opportunity to evaluate them. That has not been my experience on the vast majority of feral cat/TNR advocate sites.

            And, as I don’t know you either, I have no reason to dispute your professed respect for nature. What I will point out is that unrestrained domestic cats have no place in it.

  2. TNR Researcher

    I always find rants like yours hilarious. First you teach everyone that it’s perfectly okay to dump their cats because some fool like you will happily take care of them. That colony of yours is such a wonderful advertising billboard of where to dump their cats. Then you complain about it after you’ve taught everyone to dump their unwanted cats into your TNR colonies.

    Want to see what your efforts are really creating?

    Here’s another good TNR facts site that was put up not long ago. I just ran across this this week.

    tnrfactcheck D0T org SLASH tnr-handbook D0T html

    There are tomes of links and information there that give to everyone the clearest picture of all of what you and your failure of TNR-delusions are really all about. Not to mention what every last TNR advocate disrespectfully does to every other life on the planet, animal and human included. Everyone involved in TNR might be particularly pleased with the photos there of what YOUR loving euthanasia by “attrition” truly looks like.

    I hope you enjoy it. Everyone else on the planet sees you for what you truly are, torturers of all animal life on earth — just because you are too spineless and heartless to give a cat a humane death, the one time when they could have died peacefully that way. Heartless and cruel doesn’t even begin to describe your kind.

    • Amy Shojai

      TNR Researcher (aka Woodman aka Nature Lover aka Dale (Forest) Schmidt and also TruthBeTold): last evening you posted 4 long response/rants in the space of a 90-second period, telling me your posts are simply cut-and-pasted from other sites around the globe and nothing new. The links I’ve posted already contain similar responses so folks interested in your opinions can get a taste there of the occasional fact buried in vitriolic.

      The only “new” thing is your post about this “TNR Facts Site” in what is the mildest of the four comments, so I’ll allow that to stand. Further posts will continue to be moderated and–if this tone continues–deleted without posting. By the way, congrats on figuring out how to get around the “blocking” set ups by not spelling out the boatload of URLs listed in many of your comments.

      You can again refer to my comments policy section which states: …comments judged by Bling, Bitches & Blood to be repeating the same argument, comments designed to push an agenda, comments that seek to inflame controversy, and comments that include attacks on individuals/entities may be moderated, banned, deleted, or otherwise sanctioned.

      • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

        Again, I don’t hesitate to post under my own name, but I understand why my friend TNR Researcher refuses to do so because of the incessant harassment inflicted on him by emotionally-driven ‘cat-advocates’. They threatened professor Stanley Temple at the University of WI, Madison, with DEATH merely because others quoted his research on feral and barn cats’ predation on wild birds back in the 1980s. Just last year ‘cat-lovers’ hurled racial epithets and threatened to BURN DOWN a business owned by the Monroes, a black family in Savanna, GA for the ‘crime’ of asking Animal Control to remove a bunch of feral cats fed by a neighbor from their property.

        I, on the other hand, live in Alaska, and am not only less, ahem, ‘reachable’ by the majority of these cat-worshiping extremists down in the lower 48 states, I refuse to be intimidated by them.

        • Amy Shojai

          Yes, there are extremists everywhere, and advocacy for a particular point of view does not grant license to abuse in any shape or form, from either side.

    • Brenda

      If you were a real researcher of any kind, you’d have left your name and supposed education.

      • Brenda

        Apologies, AMY. My not being a real researcher remark was obviously I hope directed to this “TNR Researcher” guy!

        • Amy Shojai

          No problem, Brenda, I figured that out. *s* Thanks for your comments.

  3. Jackie King

    I’ve always loved both cats and dogs. Actually, I love anything with a leg on each corner. Cats have always been my favorite. I’ve always found them to be caring animals who are able to love their person with a deep devotion. Cats are also independent, aloof, and haughty. It’s my belief that it’s these latter traits that cause so many people to dislike cats. But I admire these qualities, perhaps because I share them to some extent.

    A couple of friends of mine, both writers, have fed and enjoyed feral cats for many years. I’ve heard both of them talk of capturing the kitties and taking them to the vets for shots and neutering. I applaud their kindness.

    I hope no one will send me any hate mail because of my opinion, although I’d be most happy to listen to your opinions.
    Jackie King

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Jackie, Thanks for visiting and commenting. I, too, don’t appreciate hate mail or being shouted at and am always willing to entertain others’ viewpoints when shared in a respectful way. I’m glad your friends have had success with their TNR efforts. When done correctly, it’s win-win. 🙂

  4. Christine

    Thank you for highlighting some of the issues. I’d like to add another benefit of TNR groups, and helping recover lost pets. TNR groups and colony caregivers can also help recover lost cats. This, along with removing adoptable cats whenever possible, also helps immediately reduce the population outside. Many cat owners are not familiar with lost cat behavior or how to recover them, so this assistance is needed in every community. Even sharing the unique, expert Missing Pet Partnership info saves lives. You’ve written about Kat Albrecht’s training for pet detective scent detection dogs (online training now available). MPP’s lost pet recovery tips can really help educate pet owners to help them overcome some of the many barriers they face, and even help found pets get back home. Check out her case blog, too.

    Also needed are volunteers able to post lost animals online on behalf of those without computers, and post and share stray shelter animals during their hold period. Pet related and other business may be willing to sponsor or help share info.

    Did you know some places don’t post their stray animals anywhere online! There is a free, map based, centralized, international site available. Kat Albrecht noted that can help overcome the barrier of too many website not connected. It’s also free for shelters to use, and it’s something volunteers could help with. I know of a city that uses it, and volunteers will even print out stray pet profiles and post them in the areas the animals were found in, since lost cats often hide very close to home. Advertising stray shelter pets also helps rescue groups arrange to rescue and network animals; it makes it easier so they can save more lives. Some shelters show stray animals but don’t allow public adoptions. Missing Pet Partnership mentions the Helping Lost Pets site under “Links”.

    Community outreach about these things as well as programs to help with pet retention are essential. This reduces shelter and rescue intake and increases the community return to owner rate. Shelters using these progressive efforts found they reduced costs to taxpayers, and reduce nuisance complaints to municipal governments. This is totally in line with surveys demonstrating the public’s desire to end the killing of animals where the animals were not suffering or dangerous.

  5. Christine

    Other benefits to TNR and reasons I decided to keep our cats inside. When we tried letting some of our cats outside, I found our former stray cats were going and mooching dry food from compassionate neighbors who put food out for unowned community cats. I don’t eat at a soup kitchen, and my cat’s don’t need to take food out of the mouths of other cats, so ours will have to stay indoors. I also control what our cats eat and weigh out their canned food because some will overeat, and we want to prevent issues associated with dry and high carb cat food.

    The community cats do a thankless job of controlling the rodent population. I saw this first hand when the mouse population was really high about two spring seasons ago. I thought the all rustling in our neighbor’s overgrown back yard was due to wind, but there was no wind at that time! I saw a community cat hunting mice under our bird feeder during the day. Most community cats ignore the birds, I’ve observed. We ended up with a few swiftly dispatched mice in our basement, and another neighbour had mice in his kitchen that summer. I offered to lend him a cat, but he declined.

    A man with a managed community cat colony the next street over reported that the skunks moved out of his back yard. He saw it happen one day. His small property is well kept and the cat shelters are on his back deck. I don’t mind living with wildlife in our yard, but some people might prefer to have a colony of spayed/neutered and vaccinated unowned cats instead of skunks.

    Without the unpaid work of community cats, I believe our neighborhoods would suffer from overpoppulation of mice and other rodents. Cats are still doing the work they were originally kept by humans to do. Having cats control rodents is more environmentally friendly than using poison, since that has been shown to accidentally harm other wildlife too, including birds and endangered animals.

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks for your comments, Christine. You’re right, that cats can be identified and reunited with owners if/when savvy caretakers recognize how to help them. Yes, I’m a fan of Kat Albrecht’s program. It’s interesting how very interconnected all of these issues tend to be.

      • TruthBeTold

        If you think that cats make good rodent control, think again.

        Your myth about cats being good rodent control has been disproved on every island where cats were imported to take care of the imported rodents. Hundreds of years later and there’s nothing but a thriving population of cats and rodents — all the native wildlife on those islands now either extinct or on the brink of extinction — even those native species which are better rodent predators than cats (such as many reptiles and shrews which destroy rodents right in their nests), the cats having destroyed them directly or indirectly. And I bet you think of yourself as educated.

        The rodents reproduce in burrows and holes out of the reach of cats, where they are happy to reproduce forever to entertain cats the rest of their lives, and make your own lives miserable, on into infinity. On top of that, when cats infect rodents with cat’s Toxoplasma gondii parasite, this hijacks the minds of rodents to make the rodents attracted to where cats urinate. (Google for: Parasite Hijacks The Mind Of Its Host)

        Cats actually attract disease-carrying rodents to where cats are. The cats then contract these diseases on contact with, or being in proximity to, these rodents. Like “The Black Death”, the plague, that is now being transmitted to humans in N. America directly from cats that have contracted it from rodents. Yes, the plague is alive and well and being transmitted by cats today. Cats attracting these rodents right to them further increasing the cat/rodent/disease density of this happy predator/prey balance. It has been documented many many times. The more cats you have, the more rodents and diseases you get.

        Cats DO NOT get rid of rodents. I don’t care how many centuries that fools will claim that cats keep rodents in-check, they’ll still be wrong all these centuries. Civilizations of humans have come and gone in great cities like Egypt, yet their cats and rodents remain in even greater pestilent numbers.

        No cat population anywhere has ever been able to control rodents effectively. But native predators can — easily.

        Keep deceiving yourselves.

        • Brenda

          Cats DO get rid of rodents. Superstitious types in the Middle Ages killing cats caused the Bubonic Plague to spread like crazy.

          Post-Katrina when the cats had temporarily gone elsewhere for food the rodent pop was a problem, not when the feral colony came back. (I don’t live in New Orleans either but was in the path.)

          • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

            As for the myth of ‘kitties would have saved Europeans from the plague’, current research indicates rats had little or nothing to do with it. Cats still less. Plague carrying fleas were brought to western Europe on caravans–camels, camel-drivers and merchants–traveling the Silk Road from western Asia. The original host animal to these plague-carrying fleas was an Asian rodent known as the giant or Mongolian gerbil (Acomys cilicicus).

            Even if cats were HALF as effective at rodent control as short-tailed weasels, mink, gray foxes, barn owls or rattlesnakes, they could do nothing against a vector that wasn’t THERE except to be contaminated by the fleas brought from it by travelers and spread them further.

        • Brenda

          The Bubonic Plague is “The Black Death” and cats usually don’t have fleas in areas where there aren’t dogs. The feral colonies I am most familiar with co-exists in yards where there are more birds than anywhere else.

          I don’t usually tell other people to go seek mental health counseling but cat haters need to realize that they DO need to seek mental health counseling. And take some biology classes and learn how to research and analyze

          • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

            I’m a fisheries biologist who lives and works in the state of Alaska. Here’s more evidence concerning the myth that cats control plague:

            All forms of plague–pneumonic, bubonic and septicemic–were present in western North America BEFORE the first European set foot on these shores with a cat under his arm. But there is NO known incident of a plague pandemic in North America. If that ever changes, it’ll almost certainly be BECAUSE of cats, not because of their absence:

            Cat-Transmitted Fatal Pneumonic Plague —

            The primary wild vector for plague, and until cats superseded them the animal responsible for most North American plague deaths, is the California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beechyi). The single most effective predator and natural control for this species is the Western Rattlesnake (Crotalis viridis species complex). This snake not only pursues S. beechyi down its burrows, it shelters in them afterwards–i.e. the squirrel’s main predator lives next door, and make regular forays into its neighbors’ digs to keep their populations in check. Because of this Western Rattlesnakes are even more effective in controlling this plague vector than other snakes, venomous or nonvenomous. And unlike little ‘fluffy’, they don’t catch plague themselves.

            I monitored one such ground squirrel/rattlesnake assemblage covering nearly an acre in Camp Pendleton’s 21 Area (Camp Delmar) in 1977-80, when I was in the military (was actually bitten by the offspring of a rattler from that site the following year). I subsequently studied herpetology and comparative anatomy under one of the western hemisphere’s most eminent herpetologists, Richard E. Ethridge PhD. He once posited that without Western Rattlesnakes the North American Pacific coast would be uninhabitable to humans because of plague. In support of this he offered an example involving a related species, the Western Diamondback (C. atrox) from his home state of Texas: The Western Diamondback is our most dangerous serpent.

            There was an island off the Texas Gulf coast near Bay City that was jointly owned by four wealthy ranching families. There was also a robust population of Western Diamondbacks on the island. Out of concern for their children’s safety, ranch-hands were directed to eradicate the snakes. Because it was an island population, and the snakes hibernated during the winter at a single den-site, the ranch-hands were successful. They killed all the rattlers on the island.

            Starting the very next spring not a single calf survived past birth–it was swarmed by rats as soon as it dropped to the ground from its mother’s womb. Ultimately the ranchers were forced to RE-INTRODUCE rattlesnakes from the Texas mainland to control the rats.

            You’ll note they didn’t introduce hoards of cats. They wanted something they knew would actually WORK. So much for the ‘cats control plague’ myth.

          • Amy Shojai

            One can indeed find studies and examples of any situation to support the result/facts that we want to see. I might recommend you read a new book, ALLEY CAT RECUE’S GUIDE TO MANAGING COMMUNITY CATS by Louise Holton. There are 14 pages of supporting references, including “peer reviewed” published studies detailing the results of managed colonies. (References from advocates as well as non-proponents).

            Again, thanks for the many detailed posts. I believe you’ve made your point. We’ll have to agree to disagree on some of your conclusions. Peace.

  6. TruthBeTold

    Another interesting experiment. They wanted to find out if dogs could possibly transmit cat-shat Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. A dog infected with T. gondii from a source-cat cannot. That stage of the parasite’s life-cycle is 100% dependent on cat-physiology as its primary reproductive host. But if dogs ingest oocyst-laden cat-feces then dogs can pass the oocysts produced by cats & their common brain-hijacking parasite.

    ncbi D0T nlm D0T nih D0T gov SLASH pubmed/9477489?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn

    It is interesting to note: That these Toxoplasma gondii oocysts shed by cats can even survive the hydrochloric stomach acids for the duration that they remain in a mammal’s digestive tract. And then they doubt my words when I tell them of the studies where they found that this parasite’s oocysts (seeds) can even survive washing your hands in bleach. You could wash your hands and garden vegetables in hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes for the same duration that food remains in an animal’s digestive tract and even that won’t destroy it. Your hands would be dissolved into a digestible pulp long before you could kill the Toxoplasma gondii oocysts.

    Yeah, “basic hygiene” is going to keep your kids safe from going blind sometime during their life, becoming autistic, or die if they ever require any immunosuppressive therapies during their lifetime if they had ever played in a sandbox that a neighbor’s cat has defecated in.


    • Amy Shojai

      Aha, another pseudonym, TruthBeTold. I’m curious why someone as passionate about the “truth” hides behind so many aliases? You’re posting from an IP address in Fredericktown, MO….have you moved from Galveston or simply spoofing the IP? If you’re who I suspect you are, I can understand why you’d want to stay “under cover.”

      It appears your major concern with cats has to do with toxoplasmosis. Why stop with cats? Where do the cats get it from? Numerous studies have found not only native felids (bobcats, mountain lions, jacarunda) infected and carrying the parasite, but other animals as well: black bear, foxes, raccoons, squirrels and even insects. Domestic kitties that gnosh these critters potentially become infected, so why not mount a war against ALL wildlife since they carry disease?

      Or is it okay for native species to carry disease but not domestic critters? So it’s okay for prairie dogs to carry plague (they’re the major host in the United States), and for fleas to be the vector–prairie dogs, rats and fleas are innocent victims because they’re “native” but cats are the bad guy because their domesticated, and feral cats the devil for daring to cross someone’s lawn or hunt a Piping Plover without permission?


      If removing cats from the world protected kids from blindness, autism and immunosuppression (maybe even cancer?! wowzer) more folks might join your fight. “More than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness,” according to the CDC. And here’s the deal: those 60 million that have been exposed/carry and are not sick are protected. That’s what parasites do–they don’t want to KILL the host or even make it sick, they want to live alongside the carrier.

      That makes cats pretty darn amazing, they’ve found a way to evolve and not get sick. And people who love them can protect themselves easily with basic hygiene: wear gloves gardening/cleaning the litter box, cook meat and veggies thoroughly. It’s not rocket science.

      • Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

        Just a brief mention that the natural control of Prairie-Dogs is also the Western Rattlesnake. It works the same way as described for the California Ground Squirrel (until recently the real primary North American plague vector)–there has never been a plague pandemic generated by prairie-dogs, either. Not because of cats, but because of rattlesnakes.

  7. Brenda

    Quick points to remind all. Perhaps the reason much of Europe learned to have cats around outside was because of the Bubonic plague rampaging through there when they were so ill advised as to have superstitiously killed cats!

    England has now gone nuts with intent to poison themselves and all badgers.

    Overpopulation OF PEOPLE that is destroying everything and all habitat is never mentioned by the cat haters.

    I truly don’t trust people who hate cats and would not associate with most. Wish I had used that as a shortcut earlier in life and would have had no false friends at all really. The ONLY exceptions to that rule are those who got exceptionally frightened in childhood of cats and I have never seen the two exceptions I know of being out to kill any.

    I may have more remarks when I think further on the topic.

    Your mention of basic sanitation gets to the root of a lot of problems!

    If the public health were better addressed in the U.S. than it has been, then public health for animals would have been emphasized more as well. We really need “socialized medicine” for animals and people to help all people and animals stay healthier.

    Those of us in areas with raccoons know of the problems they cause. I will never forget the story of one man (in Arkansas I believe it was) who died of RABIES after investigating his attic. Rabid raccoons or similar vermin had been in his attic and by the time the medical personnel figured it out it was too late for him. Feral cat colonies tend to help keep racoons out of your yard though they are a danger to individual cats.

  8. Patricia

    Amy Thank You for this blog. I’m so glad you discussed these subjects and you hit the nail on the head! I have had cats over 50 years and currently have 3 indoor cats and 2 outside, including 1 feral. I have never got sick from my cats and do not know anyone who has got sick from their cats. I have been around cat haters and can’t stand them. I had one tell me that if my cat ever got on their vehicle and left a paw print – they would kill my cat! I told them to try it and they would see what would happen! I even have a relative that won’t come to my house because they are cat haters. What is also sad is the very disrespectful remarks made by the TruthBeTold and TNR Researcher. Both of you should be ashamed that you can’t carry on a civilized conversation. To the TNR Researcher – if you’re so proud of that title – why not put your name?

    • Amy Shojai

      Patricia, I find that many of the so-called “cat haters” just never met the right cat. *s* Often they had a bad experience with them–and there’s no excuse for the irresponsible folks who make it so hard for the responsible ones and their beloved companions. Sadly, we won’t be able to change every mind–and can only do our best to model good behavior and cat/dog care to others.

  9. Amy Shojai

    TruthBeTold logged on with yet another IP address (Minnesota this time) and email address, but I’ve deleted the comments this time were a repetition and added nothing new. I appreciate the cordial tone of all the other commentators.

  10. Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

    “….ALLEY CAT RECUE’S GUIDE TO MANAGING COMMUNITY CATS by Louise Holton. There are 14 pages of supporting references, including “peer reviewed” published studies detailing the results of managed colonies. (References from advocates as well as non-proponents).”

    Without having seen it, I’ll ask are there any other peer-reviewed studies than the three in which J. K. Levy has (so far) participated? Those certainly didn’t support the contention that TNR works. In her 2003 study she initially claimed a 66% reduction of her subject colony on the University of Central Florida campus.

    But a breakdown of those numbers indicates 47% of her so-called ‘reduction’ consisted of feral kittens she convinced local households to adopt. While this may to some degree demonstrate the efficacy of ‘trap-neuter-adopt’ (assuming the folks who accepted them didn’t subsequently dump them) it doesn’t count when it comes to trap-neuter-release. Levy also euthanized 11% of her subjects. Euthanasia efficacy is similarly not at question nor relevant to this study. An additional 6% of her subjects left the study area or were killed by cars.

    But TNR sure took care of that remaining 2%! It only took eleven years.

    After two additional studies Levy was forced to admit that “Population-level effects of TNR” (alone) “were minimal.” I can provide links for these statements.

    Concerning the other oft-repeated myth of TNR advocates, i.e. the so-called ‘vacuum-effect’, Dr. Levy had this to say:

    “…virtually no information exists to support the contention that neutering is an effective long-term method for controlling free-roaming cat populations.” “…free-roaming cats do not appear to have sufficient territorial activity to prevent new arrivals from permanently joining colonies.”

    Levy, Julie K., David W. Gale, and Leslie A. Gale. Evaluation of the Effect of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return and Adoption Program on a Free-Roaming Cat Population. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2003, 222(1): 42-46.

    I’ll also mention that my ongoing attempts to develop a rate-comparison between feral cat population increase rate and successful TNR rate (despite an overall paucity of TNR data) suggest that the latter has been only one nine-hundredth of one percent of the former over the last decade and-a-half.

    If you have references you believe refute the above, I’m very happy to review them if you’ll post them or their links. Knowledge is the key to solving this problem.


    Al-Hajji FHM

    • Amy Shojai

      With respect, you may certainly purchase the book and review the citations as you wish and perhaps post on your own blog site and I will look forward to reading it then. In my experience, the conversations/debates serve only as podiums for each side to hold up their favorite supporting documentation and quickly turn into shouting matches. I have no wish to debate, it’s doubtful we’ll change each others minds, and we’ve each more than adequately stated your position with a large number of citations. Thank you for being cordial. I’ll be closing comments on this thread, and perhaps will continue the conversation on your blog/platform.


      Amy Shojai, CABC

  11. Al-Hajji Frederick H Minshall

    Well, in that case thank you for your patience and tolerance. It’s been more than I’m used to receiving.

  12. Robert Hudson

    For the most part, the majority of the people who are against TNR are bird conservationalists, and of course PETA, and these people are the most finatical and narrow minded wildlife activists that are in a constant battle of words, or much worse for their cause. I commend your tolerance Amy. I would not give them the opportunity to even be heard as it is usually just mindless trolls who rant and rave with anonymity without the courage to let themselves be known. You have much more restraint than I could ever muster


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