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My Pet World: Trapping and neutering/spaying feral cats is humane solution
My Pet World

My Pet World: Trapping and neutering/spaying feral cats is humane solution

Dear Cathy,

I live in a 55-and-older community. Last year, we had about 20 feral cats roaming the complex. People here are boarding them up under trailers so they can’t get out. Several have talked about killing them. I was threatened with major fines because I gave two kittens that stayed in my yard food and water after they came to my door crying. I probably shouldn’t have fed them, but I could tell they were starving.

What can I do or who can I contact to help? The people here just complain but will not pay to have anything done and they don’t care about TNR (trap, neuter, return). They don’t understand that other cats will just move in if they exterminate them.

I am at a loss. I’m the only person here who seems to care. Any information would be greatly appreciated. — L. Nelson, Tucson

Dear L.,

Thank you for caring about these cats. People often forget that feral and community cats are the result of people dumping their cats on the streets. Sadly, other people frustrated by the situation often blame the cats for being in their neighborhoods and want them hauled off or killed rather than trying to find humane ways to help these abandoned felines.

Most people want someone to take these cats away, but there typically aren’t people at animal control or local shelters that do this because that would result in euthanasia and, as you point out, would create a void in the neighborhood that would eventually be filled with other cats.

The goal of the community is to make sure these cats don’t reproduce. With spring coming, there is a good chance that by the time you read my response, every female feral/community cat in your neighborhood will be pregnant. Cats can have two to six kittens a litter and give birth several times a year. Your neighborhood will be even more overrun with cats if they aren’t fixed soon.

The best thing your fellow residents can do is TNR, which you mentioned. This is the humane solution for reducing feral cats in the community and involves trapping the cats and taking them to a clinic to get fixed and vaccinated.

The clinic also will clip the cat’s left ear indicating that the cat has been fixed and return the cat to its neighborhood. The goal is to stabilize the cat population by making sure no kittens are born.

If the cats are fixed and fed, they generally aren’t even seen much in the neighborhood except by the people who feed them.

Try to find like-minded souls to help you launch this neighborhood effort. Check with local spay/neuter clinics about the cost for these services. Often, there are grants that help cover the cost or partly subsidize these surgeries.

Hermitage No Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary, Pawsitively Cats and Tucson Cares indicate on their websites that they provide humane traps, so you can trap the cats for their surgeries.

If you can educate your neighbors (and the city council to change the laws about caring for feral cats so it’s not a crime), you will make a huge difference for feral and community cats in Tucson.

Dear Cathy,

We have a 7-year-old rescue dog. We recently found out he is allergic to chicken. I am told this is the top allergen for dogs. Yet 99% of dog foods and treats contain chicken.

Even the ones that claim to be beef, salmon, etc. Are there any foods that don’t have chicken? How do you find them? — Jani, Las Vegas

Dear Jani,

There are pet foods on the market that are labeled “limited ingredient foods” that have alternate proteins, like fish, duck, rabbit and bison for dogs with food sensitivities and allergies.

So long as the food is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, you are not missing any important nutrients.

There are other brands available these days for dogs with food allergies. Ask your vet for a recommendation or go to a pet store and speak to someone who can walk you through the dog food brands.

You also can search online for “limited ingredient dog foods” or “dog foods for pets with allergies.”

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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