Many residents on Hydra attempt to take care of the cat colonies in their neighborhoods by putting out food to keep them from starving. Often times, however, this leads to those colonies growing too large—female cats naturally give birth every three months to an average of five or six kittens—and this overpopulation leads to illness, including cat flu (sneezing, respiratory infection, snotty noses), chlamydia infection (pussy, inflamed, or missing eyes), and parasites (ear mites, mange, worms). Many of these animals suffer greatly before finally succumbing. This problem gets progressively worse over the winter months when food resources are scarcer and both kittens and their mothers suffer from poor nutrition.
The reasons for pursuing TNR on Hydra are many.
- TNR stabilizes feral cat colonies. Colonies involved in TNR diminish in size over time. TNR quickly stabilizes feral cat populations by instantly reducing reproduction.
- TNR improves cats’ lives. TNR relieves cats of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy. Mating behaviors, like roaming, yowling, spraying, and fighting, cease. Cats’ health improves and they live longer, healthier lives.
- TNR answers the needs of the community. Once TNR is in place, reproduction in within cat colonies is greatly reduced. The population stabilizes and eventually declines to sustainable levels. Colonies become quieter and cats become better neighbors.
- TNR works. Other methods don’t. Attempts to permanently remove cats from an area always fail because whenever cats are removed, new cats move in, or the surviving cats left behind breed to capacity.
Vets and animal welfare organizations agree that TNR is the most important step in both controling animal populations and improving animal welfare. Aside from reducing the population, it has the added benefit of keeping cats healthier (reduced transmission of diseases like FIV), cleaner (less spraying), and less aggressive (fewer fights for territory and mates).