The study, published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health, recommends rounding up and killing millions of outdoor, untamed cats to protect people against rabies. But cat supporters counter that there have been no confirmed cat-to-human rabies transmissions in decades, and that feral cats, by definition, tend to shy away from humans.
“This is fear-mongering, and it can have disastrous consequences for cats,” Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson said of the journal article.
Cat advocates also argue that traditional animal control programs, which involve catching and killing feral cats, have been in place for over a century and have failed to reduce the cat population. They contend that the relatively new practice of trap-neuter-return (TNR), which involves humanely trapping feral cats, neutering and vaccinating them and returning them to their outdoor environment, is more humane and is more effective at reducing outdoor cat populations.
“No community has killed its way out of the so-called ‘feral cat problem,’” said Peter J. Wolf, a cat initiatives analyst at Best Friends Animal Society. “To imply that lethal roundups are the answer is not only irresponsible, it ignores reality. The choice implied by the paper’s authors, who are opposed to TNR, is a false one. Sterilized and vaccinated cats are far better for public health than the alternative.”
The journal article was written by five employees from the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, one employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the head of the nonprofit American Bird Conservancy.