The Battle Against Overpopulation of Feral Cats (by Guest Blogger Molly Tyler)

Read more about the author here. This post is based on the community work and writing that the author has been doing in WR 122 at Portland Community College.  The piece of public writing is loosely based on a research question and research collection the author developed.  The public writing is a chance to use one’s writing to become part of the larger community dialogue about issues in the chosen theme.

MollyBlogPictureThe Public Writing: A Letter to the Editor of the Oregonian

Trap.  Neuter.  Return.  There is no true solution to the over population of cats in Portland, or anywhere for that matter, but trap-neuter-return programs are the best aid to this issue.  Feral cats can be much different from your average house cat; they grow up in the “wild”.  They are not used to people like the pets that so many of us hold dear.  When cats are truly feral, they belong outside.  This does not mean they should be ignored, or even trapped and euthanized.  The way to help them and the issue of over population is to trap, neuter and return them to their homes outside.  This is a humane process which is much better than the inhumane act of euthanizing the cats.  More emphasis should be placed upon trap-neuter-return programs such as the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon to help with this issue of over population.


The Research Question & Collection

Research Question:

Are trap-neuter-return programs effective in the constant battle against over population of feral cats?

Research Collection:

Kraus, Karen. “With Intervention, Cats and Wildlife Can Coexist: Guest Opinion.” The Oregonian 12

Feb. 2013: n. pag. 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

This submission in the Oregonian was written by the direction of the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon herself.  She wrote it in response to an article that stated cats kill billions of animals each year; mainly cats and other small mammals.  She focuses on ways to help this problem instead of arguing against the other article.  The importance of spaying/neutering cats is presented because it will significantly decrease the population of cats, which will in turn decrease the amount of deaths of other animals by cats.  It is a simple concept: if there are fewer cats, there will be fewer deaths caused by cats.  She urges the importance of programs such as FCCO to aid in the decrease of the cat population in a humane way.  This article shows that there is indeed a problem with the amount of feral cats in Portland, but it supports the humane way of resolving this issue to help other animals as well.  Her submission is very important to this topic because it addresses the issue of over population, but it also provides the solution that FCCO presents.

Now, Ed. “Great Job – Still Needs Our Support.” Editorial. Lake County Examiner [Lakeview] 27 Feb.

2013: 4-5. Print.

Although this submission is from a different city in Oregon, it shows the fact that feral cats are a problem in all cities; not just Portland.  This is a widespread problem.  In this article, the effectiveness of the Outback Oregon Humane Society’s efforts in Lakeview is reviewed.  The problem of feral cats is presented, but a step in the path to the solution is shown by the OOHS.  Cats were spayed and neutered in this small southern Oregon town and the issue of feral cats was reduced.  This shows how effective the process of spaying and neutering can be with feral cats.  It is rare to find direct numbers of the reduction of feral cats after TNR programs have been put into effect, but here is a direct account of the effect of this program in southern Oregon.  Although this town is much smaller, it shows how the program put into action there decreased the problem of over population.


Longcore, Travis, Catherine Rich, and Lauren M. Sullivan. “Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding

Management of Feral Cats by Trap–Neuter–Return.” Conservation Biology 23.4

(2009): 887-894. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

This article presents scientific evidence about trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs and why they can be so effective on the growing cat population.  There are a few different sides on the issue that are presented including the effects that feral cats have on the environment and the effects that these TNR processes have on the colonies of cats.  It is important that they analyze the effects that cats can have on the environment because it is one of the biggest issues with over population.  In order to eat, the cats must hunt, which is causing problems with our species surrounding them.  By providing that data, they are recognizing that over population is truly a scientific problem.  With that said, they also analyze how effective TNR programs can be when they are used in areas of over population.  This article is extremely relevant to this issue because it presents scientific facts on the effectiveness of TNR processes.


Hughes, Kathy L., Margaret R. Slater, and Linda Haller. “The Effects of Implementing a Feral Cat

Spay/Neuter Program in A Florida County Animal Control Service.” Journal of Applied Animal

                  Welfare Science 5.4 (2002): 285-298. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

This article presents a neutral evaluation of the implementation of a TNR program in a city in Florida.  This evaluates and analyzes the effectiveness of the program that was put into place over a six year period, examining the effects that it had on the cat populations and the city.  Because it was such a long period of time to evaluate and there were other changes in the city besides just the TNR program, it is hard to separate whether the effects on the cat population were due to the program or other changes in the city.  With that said, there were positive results from the program, such as decreasing the amount of euthanasations in that period of time.  This article shows how effective this type of program can be within a city overrun with feral cats.  With the implementation of the TNR program, less euthanizations were performed and many more surgeries (spaying/neutering) were performed.  Although this involves more surgeries, it is the humane way to handle this issue of over population.



  1. Kimberly Kosydar

    Over the course of the term I have read many of your discussions and papers about animals because that is my topic as well. It is nice to know that you found actualy scientific data about feral cats because the animal overpopulation topic is very hard for anyone to keep the right statistics on. I totally agree with you and your topic that TNR is so much better than euthanizing these cats because it is really not their fault at all. TNR may be the only true humane way to help these animals without taking them out of the environment they have known their whole life.

    The only thing that I recommend is maybe adding a source that doesn’t like TNR because sometimes having a source that somewhat opposes what you believe can make your views and opinions seem stronger. You could probably find something about how someone thinks that TNR is too costly for the country and then you could explain that they are crazy and inhumane. 🙂 Having two sides can always make the right way, which is your way, seem even more right. Good job Molly!

    Kimberly Kosydar

  2. Bobbi

    The spay and neuter programs as you have shown with evidence do decrease the feral cat populations. But the impact they have on other species can not be denied. One of the species most often talked about that is effected by cats are the songbirds. So you could talk about information they have on the effects on feral cats on songbirds.
    Euthanizing is not done in an inhumane manner if the correct medications are used and provided by a qualified veterinarian. So your statement is without supporting facts, it is just your emotion which weakens your argument for me.
    You could also address that by having a TNR program that these cats can then be evaluated for other health issues. Is that type of care provided?

  3. Gabriel Gils Carbó

    You know I could never be behind a euthanization policy for cats, but I can get behind a trap/neuter one.

    That said, I read that same article that you must have read about the number of animals that cats kill. I’m a bit skeptical about their conclusions because it doesn’t seem like they did any sort of study on historical data. I mean it’s not like feral cats are a thing of today only, there have been feral cats for a while now. Why would it be a bigger problem now than it was 50 years ago? Is it that we’re approaching some sort of critical mass?
    I don’t want to hear about the rat problem stemming from the lack of cats that we’ll get 20 years from now if they’re not doing their homework! Ok I’m stretching the point a bit, but still I thought their points were a bit one-sided.

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