New feral cat population control program launched in Holladay

Posted at 11:26 PM, Feb 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-19 20:51:11-05

Holladay may be the next city to try maintaining a feral cat population as part of an experimental program.

Salt Lake County Animal Services released dozens of cats into their old neighborhood every month as part of a program to reduce the feral cat population without euthanizing them.

Feral cats are distinct from stray cats in a sense that stray cats were once domestic and could be again, while feral cats are wild and either have to stay wild or be euthanized in an urban setting.

The animal program being introduced to Holladay is called TNR, or Trap Neuter Return. It is a method that lets the cat live, but takes away the ability for the animal to have kittens or attract new cats.

April Harris from the Salt Lake County Animal Services says that for decades before, feral cats have been euthanized. She says that philosophy has since shifted.

"We're not in the business of killing animals, we're in the business of saving the cats. And so we've tried these programs in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County and Midvale and they work," said Harris.

In a Midvale pilot program, they have trapped 30 cats a month. In Salt Lake City they reduced cat nuisance calls by 15% using TNR. And another benefit of feral cats is that they prey on rodents.

"They're really helpful, because [rodents are] what they usually feed on if there's not a source from humans," said Harris.