Guest Essays, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Guest essay: Trap, neuter and adopt — not release

by Teresa Chagrin

Dozens of cats apparently suffered painful, terrifying deaths on the streets of Westover after someone may have poisoned them (“Westover residents find poisoned cats, police investigating,” DP-11-07-23). Yet “rescue” groups are suggesting that the solution is to reabandon even more cats on the streets. This is not only absurd, but patently cruel. As these cats’ horrifying deaths make clear, trap-neuter-reabandon programs do not “save” cats — they sentence them to gruesome fates.

While spaying and neutering prevent future generations of kittens from being born, they do nothing to protect existing cats from the many dangers they face on the streets. In addition to being poisoned, cats forced to live outdoors starve, freeze, languish with untreated infections and injuries and are ravaged by diseases, run over by cars, torn apart by dogs, and tortured by cruel people. Their lives are violently cut short, often by a decade or more. Most cats survive only 2 to 5 years outdoors, compared to 12 to 15 years for cats who live indoors.

Groups that want to help cats must stop betraying them by dumping them on the streets and encouraging others to do so. Instead, they should help the public understand that cats — just like dogs — are domesticated animals who cannot survive outdoors for long and work to pass laws requiring that all cats be spayed, neutered and kept indoors, where they are safe.

Teresa Chagrin is the animal care and control issues manager  in the Cruelty Investigations Department of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) , based in  Norfolk, Va.