Thursday, June 30, 2005

To know TNR is to love TNR

Well sort of :)

However it is really important to understand WHY we do TNR. I had a conversation with a volunteer last night because her Member of Parliament (MP) came into her area. Curiously, her MP told her that keeping a single cat in her flat is fine, because it's not a large number. It goes to show that the MPs really don't know much about cats, community cats and home pets - so it's all of our jobs to educate them.

Due to certain factors (a woman hoarding, then dumping cats in the area), the population there is rising and the town council wants to remove the cats. Unfortunately the volunteer said she didn't know what to say, so she told the MP that it was important to sterilise, which is good, but she couldn't explain why we need to sterilise. Remember knowledge is your best tool - you need to understand why TNR works. If you can't convince yourself, then how will it work to convince others?

For example, a lot of people will think that if you remove the cats in the area, it will mean there are no more cats. Seems logical doesn't it? Put yourself in the town councils shoes. Take ten cats away, and you have zero cats in the neighbourhood. So why leave the cats? You'll have no more cat related complaints and everyone's happy.

Here's the big But - it doesn't work that way. Due to the vacuum effect, new cats are going to keep moving in. They in turn will proliferate and there will be more and more cats. If you leave just one breeding pair, they and their offspring will produce 324 cats in two years. Pest control does not have the manpower, patience or time to stay there every night to trap the cats (nor would the town councils have the money to pay them if they did) but volunteers do. For example, last night Jolanda shared that she spent a full year - a few hours every single night - trying to trap one of the last elusive females in her colony.

Even if you can't use the terminology of TNR, share your own experience - let the officers know about what you have found in your colony. Volunteers are the best ambassadors for TNR because they have seen it work. For example, fewer or no kittens born, cats are healthier, etc. If it isn't working for some reason, then again the volunteer is the best person to explain why that is - is it because people are dumping? Then it's time to ask the town council for help to tackle the problem.

Remember, doing TNR is really important, but understanding WHY we do TNR is equally important. If called upon, you can change peoples' mindsets by explaining why we use TNR. Many people are ignorant, not cruel, and are looking for a better solution - we all know that solution is TNR, so give this great solution to them and explain why it is the best thing we as a community can do for our cats. You may be called upon to explain TNR at short notice - so take a leaf from the Boy Scouts' book, always be prepared and arm yourself with the necessary knowledge.

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