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Feral cats ... and humans

Published January 21, 2011 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, wants to allow citizens to shoot feral cats ("Utah bill would permit shooting feral animals," Tribune, Jan. 16). This bright idea is not only barbaric, it's pointless.

Feral cats form colonies around reliable food sources. If a cat is "removed" from the colony, the remaining unaltered cats will turn their breeding up a notch to compensate. I liken it to the mythical serpent Hydra: cut off one head and two grow back in its place.

There is a solution that will actually mitigate the feral cat problem: trap, neuter, return. Under TNR, cats are caught in humane traps, transported to vets for castration and vaccination and returned to the colony. It's cheaper than it sounds. I've done this with the colony I tend, and we now have a group of flabby, confirmed bachelor cats who reward us with free pest control. (For info, see http://www.UtahPets.org.)

TNR is probably not trigger-happy enough for Oda's liking. Perhaps Oda could just declare open season on the irresponsible folks who dump their unwanted pets by the roadside. (Relax, we'll use paintball guns.) After all, the real root of the feral cat problem is the behavior of savage humans.

Erin Saunders

Salt Lake City