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Bird and cat lovers should work together

12:00 PM EST, March 8, 2013

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Predation by free-roaming cats is a serious matter, and it deserves our careful attention ("House cats: the destructive invasive species purring on your lap," Feb. 25). The Humane Society of the United States values both cats and wildlife. Yet it is unrealistic and inhumane to simply gather up some 30 to 80 million unowned cats and remove them from the outdoors, as op-ed writer George Fenwick suggests. Adoption is not feasible for truly feral cats. Permanent sanctuary for that many cats would require inordinate resources. That means that the only practical way of reducing the population would require mass killing. That's not ethical, nor is it politically achievable.

Wildlife and cat advocates should work together to reduce the impacts of free-roaming cats wherever possible by humanely reducing their numbers and curtailing their presence in environmentally sensitive areas. Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) programs are part of the solution. As an organization that works closely with municipal animal care and control and humane agencies, The HSUS has seen evidence in the field of what works and what does not. Let's move on to real solutions rather than just anti-cat rhetoric.

We must also focus on spaying and neutering to reduce cat overpopulation, keeping cats indoors for their safety and that of wildlife, providing visible identification so cats can be returned to their homes, and other measures that will gain the support of the millions of people who love and care for cats and wildlife alike.

Wayne Pacelle, Washington

The writer is president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

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