I want to correct the misinformation in PETA's Jan. 7 letter ("Manatee County policy on feral cats causes more suffering") and ensure Herald readers have the facts about Manatee County's policy regarding feral cats.
Feral cats are not socialized to people and can't live in homes as pets. When they are impounded by shelters, they're killed.
Manatee County Animal Services did not stop accepting feral cats because it doesn't care about them, it did it to protect their lives. Instead of killing feral cats, Manatee County supports the only humane and effective method of stabilizing cat colonies: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
Through TNR, feral cats are trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and returned to where they were trapped. Feral cats have lived outdoors for 10,000 years and thrive in every landscape. They're just as healthy as pet cats.
Claims that they "suffer" outdoors are based on isolated incidents and are not supported by scientific evidence. A study of feral cats in high-volume spay/neuter clinics spanning nearly a decade found that less than 1 percent of cats needed to be euthanized because of debilitating conditions.
Catching and killing cats is cruel and ineffective; when one group of cats is removed and killed, others move in and breed. TNR stabilizes colonies, ends mating behaviors like roaming, and allows cats and community members to coexist.
It was clear at this week's meeting with the Trailer Estates board that the majority of the residents already support TNR. Just like most Americans, they do not want cats to be harmed.
Manatee County should be applauded for taking the initiative to protect feral cats and adopting TNR -- the only strategy that works.
Aileen Walden, Interim Programs Director, Alley Cat AlliesBethesda, Md.