At one point, Roman the cat finally found relief from his life on the street. A “community cats” advocacy group scooped him up, coordinated the removal of painful teeth that had abscessed while he’d struggled to survive outside, and neutered him. But instead of keeping him safe, his “rescuers” abandoned him right back onto the streets. He was a part of a trap-neuter-reabandon (TNR) program, and it allowed him to suffer terribly.
After enduring a miserable life outdoors for two years, Roman was found near death and suffering in the bitter Pennsylvania winter cold. In a fundraising appeal, the group reported that he’d “lost tremendous amounts of weight and [become] very frail.” He was infested with fleas and intestinal parasites, had developed a severe sinus infection, and had contracted feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which attacks cats’ immune systems much as HIV does in humans. Photos posted to a GoFundMe page to raise money for his medical treatment showed him looking weak and bleeding from his face.
Roman’s misery could have been prevented if he hadn’t been reabandoned and left to struggle on the streets.
The fundraising page reported that “Roman is in foster care and is LOVING indoor life. He loves to be pet and just purrs and purrs to show his appreciation.” Of course he does. Cats are domesticated animals who don’t usually fare well when left to fend for themselves outdoors. This cat should have been afforded a chance to enjoy an indoor life from the beginning.
TNR is increasingly being used by animal shelters under pressure from so-called “no-kill” proponents in an effort to make shelter “saved” statistics look better. But the cats who are abandoned on the streets haven’t been “saved” by a long shot. There’s no good death out there.
Sterilization alone doesn’t sufficiently improve the quality of life of cats who’ve been abandoned outdoors.
The life expectancy of a cat who lives outdoors is just one to five years, compared to 12 to 20 years for one who lives indoors. Instead of being adopted into loving homes or even painlessly euthanized, abandoned cats suffer and often die slowly from contagious diseases, painful injuries, parasite infestations, dehydration, exposure, attacks by predators (including cruel humans), and more. Usually, they’re covered with fleas and ticks and suffer from abscesses, painfully rotted teeth, and a host of other health conditions.
Moreover, not all cats abandoned in TNR programs are “feral”—many are perfectly tame. Not only are such cats adoptable (as Roman seems to have been), they may also be someone’s lost companion. Refusing to admit them to shelters means denying them a chance to find a loving home or be reunited with their guardians.
What You Can Do
Fight feline homelessness by always having your cats spayed or neutered and keeping them indoors. If your local shelters have adopted “no-kill” or TNR policies and refuse to accept unwanted cats, remind them that sterilized cats still die—they just have painfully protracted deaths, outdoors and alone. Urge such facilities to reverse their misguided policies. Please, spread the word about the cruelty of TNR by sharing this story.