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>Q: What do you think about the recent press release from the American Bird Conservancy criticizing TNR (trap, neuter and return), pointing out that it's the perfect storm for promoting rabies?

-- T.S., Cyberspace

A: I think it's ridiculous. In great part, the entire point of TNR is to vaccinate stray and feral cats for rabies, as well as to spay/neuter the cats in the colonies where feral and stray cats live. Without being able to reproduce, the colony dwindles to a couple of elderly cats, and eventually to nothing. TNR is actually a part of the solution to lessen the incidence of rabies in cats.

For starters, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two primary rabies vectors are bats and raccoons. Cats are much further down on the list.

The press release notes that cats, feral or not, are perceived as domestic, and approachable. Perhaps that's the case. But the next sentence in the release should say, "and when approached, feral cats run away." Colony cats should be vaccinated for rabies, and actually are therefore not a threat for transmitting rabies. What's more, I believe a greater percentage of colony cats are vaccinated for rabies compared with owned cats, for whom the vaccine is often mandated by law but still ignored by owners.

It's a fact that cat-to-human rabies transmission hasn't occurred in the U.S. for over 30 years, according to the CDC.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the barrage from bird groups attacking TNR without providing a better solution or assisting in the TNR effort. I agree that feral and stray cats do kill too many songbirds. But baseless allegations do nothing to help. I do appreciate the bird groups' campaigns to promote keeping our pet cats indoors (unless they're supervised outdoors, such as within cat fencing or on a leash and harness). Not only is this beneficial to wildlife, but such cats live longer, healthier lives.

email: petworld@steve

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