There has been some important progress in attitudes and treatment of community cats in Illinois. Most notably, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is no longer banning the trap-neuter-return (TNR) of feral cats on its lands. This adds Illinois to the list of states with ordinances that promote TNR (Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Utah, This will save the lives of many feral cats as the alternative of TNR programs is to euthanize the cats. Although the Department’s decision has been opposed by the Illinois Chapter of the Wildlife Society, which believes that free-roaming cats threaten native small animals such as birds and that TNR is not effective in decreasing feral cat populations, there are an overwhelming amount of studies that prove otherwise. “One peer-reviewed scientific study showed that in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, a “trap-neuter-return” program resulted in an average of 54% decrease from initial population levels of free-roaming cats and an average 82% decrease from peak levels.” (source)
The City Council of LaSalle, Illinois recognizes TNR as a viable solution to the city’s cat overpopulation dilemma. They signified their trust in TNR about one year ago by making a $500 donation to the most prevalent local animal welfare organization and practitioners of TNR, Safe House Animal Rescue League. After several years of TNR work, key problem areas have seen a significant drop in numbers of feral cats. Canal Street, for example, was once crowded with feral cats and kittens but now it is difficult to find any kittens there. Kudos to LaSalle for embracing TNR for their community cats!
Solutions for City Rats!
In Chicago, Illinois, the Tree House Humane Society animal shelter has released 1,000 sterilized and vaccinated feral cats throughout the city as a response to rat overpopulation. The shelter states that the cats chosen for this program, called “Cats at Work,” are too wild to be adopted out or kept long-term in the shelter. Essentially they are practicing TNR but showcasing it to city residents as an ecofriendly solution to their rat problem. Although the shelter is being strategic, they are not being dishonest! Urban environments that lack community cats usually experience an overgrowth of their rat population because city rats have very few other predators. We hope that the service the released cats are providing for Chicago will inspire the people there to treat them with respect and compassion.
The cats are put to work at businesses that are approved for putting out food and water for the cats, and providing shelter and care. In most cases the cats become beloved members of the community!
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.