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  • Writer's pictureKathy Gabrielescu

Abandoned Cats Brought to You by the No Kill Nation

When I started doing TNR, your average town had a "dog catcher" style animal control service. Most animals were never adopted and lost their lives in "the pound". It was not a good situation and I would never argue that it was.

Twenty-five years later we have changed but not for the better. Cries for a "no kill nation" have led towns to creatively avoid the duties of animal control so that they can protect their reputation by keeping euthanasia rates low. Seemingly no one has noticed as they continue to collect municipal funding but do less than ever and end up killing even more cats.

A no-kill nation is a dream that can only be realized through prevention of cat overpopulation. There is no shortcut. There is also no amount of damage control that can dig an easy way out of the mess our society has made over the past few decades and continues to exacerbate.

A consequence of avoiding work and high euthanasia rates for decades is that most towns have no shelter facilities that offer unlimited surrender for owners, people who find strays, or residents who simply want breeding cats removed from their property.

Congratulations New Jersey! We have avoided euthanasia and replaced it with torture!

We at Whiskers get near daily calls and see endless social media posts from people who want to get rid of their pets. While we do feel that you should do everything in your power to keep your pets, not all people can or will. Ignoring the possibility of domestic violence, financial crisis, death, and mental illness is a sign that officials are acting from a serious place of privilege and certainly not as "public servants."

Towns insultingly trivialize their residents' situations. They snidely assume that people have simple lives and it's just a matter of saying "no" so that they will reconsider and keep their animals.

  • They do not consider that not all families can take on the cats left behind by a relative who suddenly dies.

  • They do not consider that a pet may be in a dangerous situation and be safer at the shelter.

  • They arrogantly assume that everyone is just taking the easy way out, when in fact, the town is guilty of that very act.

So when the call is made by a resident to a shelter and they are inevitably turned away, few options are left. Perhaps the person posts online for rescues who are at best overwhelmed and refuse; at worst, hoarders, mentally ill or just incompetent people gain a new victim. Some desperate folks even call their vets to opt for a humane end to their pets lives. However, most vets will not euthanize a healthy pet so once again they are turned away.

What do we think happens to these animals?

Do you honestly believe that in these situations, the owner has a change of heart and opts to keep the pet in a loving home forever?

I assure you that is not what is happening. We are seeing more and more cases of dumped animals. Every time an owner is caught they are vilified. In some cases they deserve it. If you get rid of your cat because it does not match your new couch, by all means you deserve to be called out. But if your husband dies and you lost your job as you were too devastated to function at your normal capacity, maybe we should consider the circumstances. If your family member is ill in another country and there is no caretaker for them but you, maybe we should offer some help to you. If you yourself are in an unsafe situation and are trying to protect your pet by rehoming, some empathy is warranted.

Instead we are in every case placing full blame on the owners but perhaps we need to, as a society, recognize that there are some circumstances in which both people and their animals need help. There are some circumstances where the HUGE surplus of cats has led to them ending up in homes of uncaring, bad people who simply get bored and don't care if they die.

Abandoned pets almost never end up in good place. Most dumped cats will suffer and die slowly on our streets. Those who don't will breed and create an even larger number of free roaming cats that will suffer similar fates. Avoiding intake and refusing the accept reality is not saving their lives. It is ending it in the slow, painful, horrifying fashions.


Yes, education and access to low cost spay neuter will help in the long run. We need enforcement of TNR and responsibility to be assigned to those who feed for fixing the cats. Today, right now, there are thousands suffering on the streets and billions being born to the same fate. TODAY we need an answer and an alternative to starvation, predation, death by cars, poisoning or worse.

TODAY we need our tax money to fund adequate open admission shelters.


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