Alley Cat Rescue Shares National Feral Cat Survey Results

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Alley Cat Rescue of Mt. Rainier, MD has released the results of their survey of groups involved in the care, management and protection of feral cats in the US.

Since 1990 the mass killing of feral cats has become unpopular as nonlethal methods of control have shown a better, more effective way to control feral cat colonies.

Alley Cat Rescue recently conducted a national survey of feral cats groups and according to ACR’s President and Founder, Louise Holton: “This survey proves that Trap Neuter Return (TNR) works and that many groups and individuals volunteer their own time and their own money to control and stabilize the nation’s feral cat population..

Over 600 surveys were mailed and 120 groups in 37 states responded. Some interesting facts that came from the survey:


  • Most feral cat groups provide spay/neuter services to “owned” cats as well as offering TNR services for ferals. This of course PREVENTS future colonies from forming.
  • Most (96%) of the TNR groups practice neuter-before-adoption for the stray cats they place in homes.
  • If you need proof that many cats can live long lives in colonies: One quarter of the groups report that their colony cats are 6 to 8 years old. Thirty-five percent report their cats are between 9 and 12 years old, and over 14% report feral cats 13 years old and some even older!
  • Another good indicator as far as rabies and other health issues are concerned: 96% of the groups provide rabies vaccinations to feral cats; 64% provide distemper; 11.76% provide feline leukemia shots; 62.18% deworm feral cats; 63.87% provide flea treatment.
  • One third reported that there were 26 to 30 kittens in each colony before TNR; 42.86% said there were 0-5 kittens in colonies after TNR.
  • 71.42% said they had relocated some cats in their colonies — this means an immediate drop in numbers of cats in colonies, something that Alley Cat Rescue has experienced many times with our own colonies.
  • Sadly 61.34% said their local animal control agencies do NOT offer TNR and 36% said animal control agencies had trapped and killed whole colonies in their areas. And as expected with trying total eradication, 27.73% said cats moved back into these areas where they were all trapped and killed, most within 2 to 3 months after the cats were removed.
  • Nearly all the groups (82.35%) educate the public about feral cats and TNR—65% say this has been “somewhat” effective, with 17.65% reporting their outreach programs to be extremely successful.
  • In response to “working with animal control,” this answer was split between most saying this was “difficult,” a little less reporting “somewhat successful” and 21% reporting “positively.”
  • Working on TNR with local city/government: Although only 15% found this easy to do, I think that is a positive indicator that we are moving in the right direction.
  • Sadly 57% reported that it was “difficult” trying to work with their local wildlife groups.


Conclusion:  Louise Holton who helped pioneer TNR in the U.S. in 1990 had this to say: “We have come a long way since I started on this mission to promote TNR in 1990. Back then there was only a handful of forward-thinking groups and individuals working on implementing TNR in America. Today ACR found nearly 700 groups and we will be working on identifying more in the future.”

About Alley Cat Rescue

Alley Cat Rescue is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of stray and feral cats. ACR has operated spay clinics in Mexico and sterilized over 23,000 cats in Maryland. ACR also supports feral cat groups in South Africa who TNR feral cats to save the ancestor of our beloved domestic housecats, The African Wildcat, Felis lybica.

Locally, ACR runs a no-kill shelter and a daily TNR spay/neuter clinic. ACR strongly advocates for TNR programs for feral cats. ACR also operates an adoption program at a local PETsMART store. ACR has been awarded the Independent Charities of Americas “Best in America” Seal of Ap­proval, and their newsletter has won many awards from the Cat Writers Association.  For more information visit the website at



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