The Borough of East Pittsburgh believes that feral cats in our neighborhoods can be a nuisance to our residents, causing damage to gardens, leaving unwanted waste & odors, and creating noise.
To alleviate the issues that feral cats can cause, East Pittsburgh is actively engaging in the process and best practice known as Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR). It has been shown time and again that simply removing feral cats will create a void and will result in new cats entering the area. TNR controls the feline population by leaving known cats in place, but spaying/neutering to prevent new litters, thus stabilizing and gradually reducing the feral cat population.
Another key factor to reducing the nuisance is to feed the cats. This may appear to be wrong, but by providing food, water and care, the feral cats will not seek out trash and other sources of food that can lead to additional rodents and pests. Feeding the cats also allows us to keep an eye on the population, become aware of new cats, and to keep them from roaming into a wider area. We have a small group of dedicated residents who are already working to feed, build trust, then TNR. They also seek out cats and kittens that can be adopted to further reduce the feral population.
Below you will find information and website links to explain more about TNR and feeding feral cats. If or when you become aware of feral cats, please contact the Borough offices at 412-823-7124.
What is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?
TNR is a nonlethal strategy for reducing the number of community cats and improving the quality of life for cats, wildlife and people. At its most basic, TNR involves:
- Humanely trapping community cats,
- Spaying or neutering them,
- Vaccinating them against rabies,
- Surgically removing the tip of one ear (a “tipped” ear is the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been spayed or neutered),
- Returning the cats to their home.
How does TNR solve common complaints associated with feral cats?
- When feral cats are trapped, neutered and returned to their territory, they no longer reproduce.
- The cessation of sexual activity eliminates the noise associated with mating behavior and dramatically reduces fighting and the noise it causes.
- Neutered feral cats also roam much less and become less visible and less prone to injury from cars.
- Foul odors are greatly reduced as well because neutered male cats no longer produce testosterone which, when they are unaltered, mixes with their urine and causes the strong, pungent smell of their spraying.
- When the colony is then monitored by a caretaker who removes and/or TNRs any newly arrived cats, the population stabilizes and gradually declines over time.
Won’t removing community cats from an area eliminate the problem?
There are many reasons cat problems are rarely solved by trapping and removing a colony. Community cats live at a certain location because it offers food and shelter. If a colony is removed, cats from surrounding colonies may move in to take advantage of the newly available resources. The cycle of reproduction and nuisance behavior begins all over again.
If all the cats in a colony are not trapped, then the ones left behind will tend to have larger litters of kittens. The kittens are more likely to survive because there are fewer cats competing for food. The colony’s population will continue to increase until it reaches the number that can be supported by the available food and shelter.
Here are some of the other factors that usually make trap and removal ineffective:
No input from the cats’ caretakers, who are the only people who really know the cats’ numbers and patterns and can control whether or not the cats are hungry enough to enter a baited trap.
No volunteers to trap cats, who face an uncertain fate or death upon capture.
Little to no animal control staff and money available to accomplish the task.
No strategy for the difficult task of catching all the cats in a colony.
No one watching out for pet cats who are lost or abandoned, aren’t spayed or neutered and quickly repopulate a vacated territory.