A Challenge to "Trappers"
Do you consider yourself a cat trapper? Do you get constant calls for help and find yourself overwhelmed? Are you unable to keep up with calls from feeders who want their cats TNR'd? Are you exhausted from trying to find time to do it all?
We have been there!!! In the 25 years I have been involved with trapping, I have seen the population of feral cats grow, not shrink. There are a few reasons:
Shelters have been vilified by the "no kill nation" movement. We need to always remember that shelters can only kill what the public breeds. While many shelters are not doing their best, at the end of the day, they are not the ones creating new animals to euthanize. The public does that for them!
While it is admirable to be a "trapper" and help as many people as you can, we as a TNR movement are failing.
We are failing to keep up.
We are failing the cats.
The reason is not lack of effort but lack of responsibility. No matter how hard a small group of us is willing to work, we can never trap every cat for every feeder. The numbers have never added up. There are exponentially more cats and feeders than there are dedicated or professional trappers. With the new veterinary shortage, this has become even more true as we are all relying on walk in appointments at clinics and losing the help of private vets.
My challenge to you is this. We need to build an army. An army not of trappers but of caretakers.
Instead of offering to do the work for feeders, we as a group need to educate and empower feeders to manage their own colonies and make it clear that it is their responsibility to do so. As professionals who have the experience of trapping, we are obligated to transmit this message to anyone feeding cats:
Once you open your first can of Friskies, you are morally obligated to do more.
You are obligated to keep the number of cats you feed to a minimum and offer them more than just food.
If you love them enough to feed them, love them enough to fix them!
Above all, we need to take the extra time to teach those who feed. We need to teach them how to trap, offer financial assistance when needed, transport if needed and full service trapping to those who are truly unable to trap. No progress is being made if you do not give someone feeding the tools to become a caretaker.
We can do so much more if we use our time wisely. Instead of spending months struggling to trap in 10 locations, we can spend the same time teaching 100 people how to trap and manage the cats they feed.
So where do we go from here? Let's start simple. For every call you get, encourage the option of education. Elizabeth has spent hundreds of hours on our web page and it is always being updated with new information and tools added for our community. Use it!
Send feeders to our page and offer to be part of the network by educating those local to you.
We can help so many more cats with this model. We can change more lives. We may even be able to humanely control the feral cat population.