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About 60 million cats in the U.S. are feral cats and that number continues to grow. Wild cats sometimes form colonies, which is problematic in urban areas. But in New York City, homeowners and businesses are working to ease the issue themselves.
Through the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, stray and feral cats become a useful form of pest control in local communities. In a process known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), “community cats” are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian. They get neutered and vaccinated before they’re returned to their respective neighborhoods. To keep track of cats they’ve already cared for, vets painlessly clip the end of one ear using anesthesia.
Local home and business owners also work with the program to help community cats who can’t return to their original homes. They provide food, water, and sometimes shelter, so the cat stays in that new area as a “working cat.”
“Even though there’s absolutely no guarantee they will get any and all rodents, it often works out that way. The cat gets a home and the business or owner gets reduced or no rodents. We’ve also seen a lot of people also just like cats. It’s nice having them around, even if they’re not particularly social,” Jesse Oldham of the ASPCA told The New York Times.
Community cats aren’t socialized to humans, so many aren’t suited for adoption. But TNR allows community cats to coexist with humans, without having to completely rehabilitate them. This humane process also effectively reduces feral cat populations and rodent issues in local neighborhoods.