The Vacuum Effect
The fact is, trap-and-remove doesnít work. ďTrap-and-removeĒ is a euphemism for capturing and killing feral cats, which is Animal Controlís traditional approach to feral cats. Trap-and-remove attempts may temporarily reduce the number of feral cats in a given area, but two things happen: one, unsterilized survivors continue to breed prolifically and, two, other cats move into the now-available territory. This is known as the vacuum effect.
New cats will move in. Feral cats establish territories based on the availability of food sources and shelter. When the cats are removed from this environment, other cats move in to take advantage of whatever sources of food and shelter are available and continue to breed. The vacuum effect has been documented worldwide.
If you stop feeding feral cats, they wonít simply go away. A feeding ban will not make the cats go away and is, in any case, arbitrarily enforced. Why? Cats bond to their territory and are opportunistic scavengers that can, if necessary, survive on garbage. Under a feeding ban, the cats suffer as they search for new sources of food.
There is a solution. Trap, neuter, and return (TNR) lowers cat populations.
Hereís how it works. Colony cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, and vaccinated. Strays and young kittens are removed from the colony and adopted into homes. Adult feral cats are ear-tipped for identification and returned to their outdoor homes where their numbers gradually go down through attrition. Itís simple.
TNR breaks the cycle of reproduction and lowers cat populations. TNR is cost effective. TNR, which enlists community volunteers in a comprehensive program, costs one-third to one-half as much as trap-and-remove efforts. Why? Trap-and-remove endeavors require continuous trapping and killing, is not supported by the community, and is an unending budget expense. You can make a difference and save lives.
Together, we can help people understand how effective the humane solution, TNR, can be. To learn more or to find tools to help you educate people in your area, go to alleycat.org.
© 2007, Alley Cat Allies