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Feral cat policy under review by vet group

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The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which represents animal doctors across the United States, is conducting a routine review of its feral cat policy to determine whether any updates should be made, according to an AVMA spokesman.

AVMA’s website encourages its more than 85,000 members to submit input online as part of the association’s “spring 2014” review of the policy.

The association’s current policy, last updated in 2009, “neither endorses nor opposes appropriately managed cat colony programs,” in which cats who are not socialized to people are humanely trapped, spayed/neutered and returned to their outdoor environment. But the policy contends that such programs have little impact on the feral cat population because an “insignificant” percentage of these cats are managed. It also implies that feral cats not in managed colonies should be captured and put down on the grounds that such felines suffer from disease, starvation and trauma and kill large numbers of birds and other small animals.

Michael San Filippo, spokesman for the Illinois-based AVMA, said June 24 that “impacts on cats and wildlife are being carefully considered” during the ongoing policy review.

Best Friends Animal Society has publicly called for the policy to be revised, arguing it is “outdated and not in keeping with current best practices in animal welfare.” The Utah-based national advocacy group said that the traditional animal-control practice of trap-and-kill has proven costly and ineffective, and that even most ferals who have no known caregiver have been found to be healthy and are “likely to thrive as community cats.” Best Friends also asserted that the impact of cats on wildlife has been exaggerated.

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