Fort Worth Trying To Get A Handle On Feral Cat Population

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Fort Worth is trying to get a handle on a growing animal problem.  The city uncovered two cases of animal attacks in the same neighborhood where a rabid cat bit a resident last week.

The cases are all near I-35W and Highway 114 in the far north end of the city.

Last week’s rabies case was the first one involving a cat in Fort Worth in a decade.

While going door to door to notify residents, code officers learned of another person bitten by a cat and a dog bitten by a skunk.  “It’s just a very unusual circumstance,” said code compliance director Brandon Bennett. “Not something we see every day.”

The city only has about a dozen confirmed cases of rabies in animals each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control Texas had 20 cats test positive for rabies in 2010.

The attacks are happening right as the city begins an effort to find a way to address the feral cat population.  Three public meetings are scheduled starting Tuesday.

About 60-percent of the 5,000 cats that come into city shelters each year are feral.  Most are unadoptable and have to be euthanized.  The city has been looking for a way to improve its live release rates.  “They’re not adoptable because they’re feral, they’re wild, they scratch, they bite,” Bennett said.

Fort Worth has allowed volunteers to run pilot experiments in Trinity Park and near TCU.  Volunteers trap, neuter, vaccinate and release the cats again.  In exchange the city does not remove them from the colonies that have developed.

Bennett said some argue the colonies are good because they keep cats in one place, and keep the rodent population in check.  Although he expects good debate at the meetings from those who see the animals as a nuisance and a public health threat.

Bennett said there is no preconceived idea on how to approach the issue.  The plan is to take feedback at the meetings and have a proposal ready by the first part of 2012.

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  • TNR Advocate

    Did you happen to do any research on the effectiveness of TNR and how many unwanted kittens have been prevented or the decrease in unwanted cat behaviors? Every feral I’ve ever seen runs away if you get within 10 feet. Did you research how much it costs FW taxpayers for animal control to come pick up a feral and dispose of it? Do you know how many ferals there would be in Trinity Park if those volunteers didn’t TNR them and care for them? TCU is down to a managed 12 cats on campus and no litters born on campus in 3 years. Your story was constructed to scare the public instead of informing them and caregivers who are practicing responsible TNR don’t appreciate it. Maybe you could mention responsible pet ownership in not letting unsterilized cats roam or abandoning owned cats to the streets where they turn feral trying to survive.

    • Woodsman

      A TNR advocate being “responsible” makes the word “responsible” into an oxymoron. They can never trap more than 0.4% of feral-cats in any area, always allowing more than 99.6% to continue to breed out of control. I did the research to confirm this. They are also doing absolutely nothing to stop the spread of deadly diseases, nor stopping the torturous deaths of those cats and all the wildlife that those cats in-turn then torture before they die. This doesn’t even begin to address that every TNR practitioner is in direct violation of ever animal-cruelty, animal-abandonment, animal-neglect, animal-endangerment, animal-abuse, and every last invasive-species law in existence.

      TNR = responsible? That’s good for a hearty laugh, and that’s all it’s good for — if TNR practices weren’t destroying and torturing so many animals while also doing absolutely nothing to curtail cats’ breeding rates.

      Even your “vacuum effect” is a 100% LIE.

      There’s an interesting study done by the Texas A&M University on TNR practices. They started out with about 12 sterilized cats. At the end of 9 months they had over 30. An increase of more than 200%, all moved in of their own volition. This isn’t due to any mythical “vacuum effect” that cat-advocates spread and lie about so often. For that to have happened you would have had to remove cats to create a vacuum for others to replace them. The exact opposite happened in this study.

      Simple reason being: CATS ATTRACT CATS

      Cat scents attract cats. This is why they spray everything, to attract mates and rivals and mark territory. Cat sounds attract cats. Mewing kittens will even attract stray toms who will kill the kittens if they are not their own (basic feline behavior of any cat species).

      If you want more cats, keep some around. More will find you. Get rid of them all and there’s no reason for other cats to come to that area. I proved this myself by getting rid of every last cat on my own land. ZERO cats moved in to replace them.

      Another interesting finding, sterilized cats do not defend their territory. Any new cats see this as easy-pickings and move in to take over. If that cat-colony is being fed then non-sterilized cats will actually overtake the sterilized colony’s food-source because the non-sterilized cats are not as docile and complacent.

      • TNR Advocate

        Interesting since A&M is one of the leading advocates for TNR and have reduced their numbers significantly over the last 15 years. No, the Vacuum Effect is NOT a lie. I have seen with my own eyes an area cleaned out and within 2 months I photographed 2 new cats in the area. And if one is male and one is female, that’s all it takes to create 30 more cats in a 2 year period. I would like to see your source for the A&M study.

        When the cats are sterilized they do not spray nor do they fight or make more of themselves. What attracts a feral is a food, water and shelter source and they WILL find it no matter how many times you clean them out. Cities have been performing trap/kill for decades. If their method works, then why are we having this problem? A “cleaned area” should be cat free! But it’s not and college campuses are prime targets with easy food, water and shelter that you can never make completely unattractive for animals. Amazingly, campuses who practice TNR have reduced their numbers from the hundreds to the dozens or less and you are welcome to look at A&M, Stanford, UNT, UT, TCU, SMU and any other college campus that is practicing TNR. As a private land owner, you can make your property as unattractive as possible for cats and they will skirt your world gladly. Businesses, campuses and neighborhoods don’t have that luxury.

        Unmaintained ferals do gather for one reason… breeding. Our program stops that main behavior. The attraction is gone and unmanaged cats move on. They have nothing to fight about. Managed cats don’t need to defend their territory because there is nothing much of interest to keep free roamers there. And you obviously have never owned a cat because my domesticated cats are all sterilized and they still have their “moments” of disagreement over who gets what cat tree. So don’t tell me they don’t have territory discussions just because they’re snipped.

        Here’s what I do know… I have worked with ferals for 12 years and our colonies don’t increase. The cats change every 3-4 years and some disappear, but my current colony that we care for 6 days a week has been stable at 2-3 cats for 5 years.

        I cannot speak for your “research”. But I know what I have seen with my own eyes and my own statistics. Yes we did trap over 95% of the cats in our area. It took us 2 years to get it under control and we have to be vigiliant every kitten season, but there have not been any litters born in our area in 3 years. We haven’t had more one litter born a year in 6 years.

        Animal cruelty? Sorry, our colonies are healthy and happy. They have their vaccinations and they are doing just fine. They’re not torturing birds or other wildlife because they don’t have to. They spend their day sleeping in the bushes. Not sure what they do at night, but there are no feathers left as evidence. Oh wait, birds don’t do much at night.

        Do you know how much it costs taxpayers for the City to take care of a feral cat? $120+ per cat. You obviously live in a rural area and have different options when dealing with wildlife. We have to have a little more structure in the city.

        Anyway, what do you care? So we try TNR for 5 years… do an impartial study gathering data on certain pilot areas. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Believe me, I’ve got better things to do than spend my weekends trapping cats. But if we’re right, then we’ve gone a long way towards reducing euthanasia numbers in the shelters. I know this response will do nothing to convince you. You’ve done your “research” and you’re an “expert” on cats. But your place is cleaned up and TNR doesn’t cost the city anything. So maybe you can just be quiet and let the citizens consider an alternative to a method that is obviously NOT working for the rest of us.

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  • skeptical

    Woodsman, I’m interested in knowing the source of your “facts.” I can guess the source of your opinions.

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