With over 14,000 stray, feral, and wild cats roaming through the crevices of society in Trenton, NJ, a new measure of population control is starting to show some early success.
Trenton Trap, Neuter, Return (Previously called Trenton Trap, Neuter, Release) is a new service offered in partnership with the Trenton Animal Shelter to help reduce the number of free-roaming felines. Rather than euthanize the cats, the program captures, spays/neuters, and returns them. "Capturing and removing the animals doesn't really work," Sandra Obi, who runs the program, told NJ.com.
Every week around 70 volunteers help residents of the community round up the wild cats and assist in screening and immunizing them as well. And thanks to a $10,000 grant from PetSmart, they offer services at low-to-no-cost. "So far this year, we've done about 200 cats, which is a lot," said Obi. Services usually price around $15 for a street cat and $35 for a domesticated cat.
On the surface, it seems ineffective just to send the cats back out into the Jersey alleyways but cats are territorial, especially in the wild, and will chase away others that aren't a part of their family or colony. And since those cats have been treated, they cannot reproduce and overpopulate. "Cats are very territorial, and they live in colonies based on families... It's called the vacuum effect. When you remove an animal from the environment and that environment can already support that type of animal, more animals are bound to move in and take their place."
Not only has Trenton TNR proven to be effective with the cats, it's also a cost effective measure. It costs Animal Control $100-120 to capture and euthanize every cat. Over time the program will lower the pet population with less and less acts of euthanasia. Given the volume of cats, however, there is still a long way to go for this ambitious project, but Sandra Obi and her volunteers are confident the program will receive more funding and personnel.
Image: Ryusuke / via Flickr