Sadly, our experience with trap, spay-and-neuter, and release programs and “managed” feral cat colonies has led us to question whether or not these programs are truly in the cats’ best interests. We receive countless reports of incidents in which cats—“managed” or not—suffer and die horrible deaths because they must fend for themselves outdoors. Having witnessed firsthand the gruesome things that can happen to feral cats, we cannot in good conscience advocate trapping and releasing as a humane way to deal with overpopulation.
Advocates argue that feral cats are just as deserving as other felines and that it is our responsibility to alleviate their suffering and assure their safety. We absolutely agree. It is precisely because we would never encourage anyone to let their own cats outdoors to roam that we do not encourage the same for feral cats. In fact, the act of releasing a feral cat is, in the eyes of the law, abandonment and is illegal in many areas.
We believe that although altering feral cats prevents the suffering of future generations, it does little to improve the quality of life for the cats who are left outdoors and that allowing feral cats to continue their daily struggle for survival in a hostile environment is not usually a humane option.
Nevertheless, PETA’s position has never been that all feral cats should be euthanized. We believe that trap, vaccinate, spay/neuter, and release programs are acceptable when the cats are isolated from roads, people, and other animals who could harm them; regularly attended to by people who not only feed them but care for their medical needs; and situated in an area where they do not have access to wildlife and where the weather is temperate.