I've been speaking to more people about this case. One of the common refrains I've heard from some of the people at the cattery the other night is that the cats are safer off the streets because they might get trapped by the TC/dogs might eat them/the AVA might come down and remove all the cats.
The caregiver, who has sterilised literally a thousand cats at least, and has worked in this area for the last ten years said that yes, there used to be cases of trapping, and yes there used to be dog attacks in some of these areas but this does not happen anymore. They've started working with the TC. As she said, when the TC has a complaint, they contact her - sometimes they contact her for areas she doesn't even manage and she tries her best to help. Her officer in fact was full of praise for this caregiver and said that few caregivers are as efficient and helpful as she is. The TC as a result does not go in and trap cats when there are complaints, but approach her first. She also knows the other caregivers in the area and works with them - if they have problems, they go to her.
So because there are false rumours it looks as if the cats might have ended up getting caught. One of the women at the cattery admitted removing cats from the general area, but not from the caregiver's area. Why? Because someone had misinformation and took it as the truth? They could have checked with the caregiver up or called the TC and checked with the TC directly, or spoken to caregivers who actually look after the cats in the area every day. Any of these would have brought about a clearer picture.
Rumours are harmful - they lead to panic. They lead to people reacting sometimes in a way that would not be rational as a result. They also may well have led to cats being removed from the areas where they were cared for, managed and comfortable and led to caregivers losing cats that they love and care for. It has also led to new unsterilised cats starting to move in.
It also doesn't mean that cats removed off the streets have a better life. Cats in a cattery are more likely to contact diseases because of the sheer number and proximity of cats nearby and cats do die of this as a result. Quite a few of the people who own catteries and shelters I've spoken to said that a cattery should be a last option when no other options are available - not a place to remove well managed cats and put them in.
As the caregiver mentioned to me, when she went into the cattery the other day, she didn't think at first glance the cats were hers because her cats looked fatter, healthier and happier.