Glossary

Terms & DefinitionsHere you’ll find a list of terms and their definitions. Simply click on the term to find it’s definition.

Abandoned Cat/Dog

A cat/dog who has been deliberately left behind during a move or taken to a place distant from the home and left. These animals initially are usually fairly well socialised.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Abuse

Willful infliction of distress. Intentional, an active process.

Animal Rights

The position that animals have certain moral and legal rights, including the right not to be harmed. Rightists believe that it is wrong to cause animals any pain and suffering, and that animals should not be eaten, used for clothing, held captive in zoos, subjected to painful experiments or used in most or any research.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Other animal philosophies include: Animal Ethics, Conservation and Deep Ecology.

Differences in animal philosophies can often lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings in the animal welfare community. As can a misperceived association of violence with animal rights campaigners (in fact the percentage of violent campaigners is very, very small). Perhaps disputes could be minimised if everyone interpreted animal rights the way Marc Gold described the notion in 1995 (quoted in Waldau, 2011):

“The term animal rights is nothing more than a useful kind of shorthand for a movement based on the recognition that non-human animals live purposeful emotional lives and are as capable of suffering as humans … kindness and tolerance for those different and weaker than ourselves are amongst the highest possible human aspirations.”

 

Animal Welfare

A position concerned with the well-being of animals without conceding that animals have rights. Welfarists believe it is alright to use animals for human benefit as long as humane safeguards are used to ensure protection from unnecessary or undue suffering. Unlike animal rightists, they accept the humane use of animals in experiments and the slaughtering of animals as food for humans.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Other animal philosophies include: Animal Ethics, Conservation and Deep Ecology.

Differences in animal philosophies can often lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings in the animal welfare community.

Caregiver

Caregivers in this context are humans who provide care to a cat colony, specifically through providing food and water daily, shelter, vet visits and medical attention when necessary, arranging neutering including TNR and monitoring colony members & newcomers.

See TNR for Caregivers and Working with Caregivers for more information.

Castration

To remove the male animal’s testicles; synonymous with ‘neutering’.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Companion Animal

An animal kept by a person for companionship rather than purely utilitarian reasons. Many people use the term companion animal because it implies a mutual, respectful relationship with an animal, as opposed to pet, which suggests that the animal is merely there to be petted.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Compassion

An emotion associated with sensitivity to the suffering of others, combined with a desire to relieve their pain. Choosing compassion over cruelty toward animals is an important principale, along with offering them empathy and respect. Animals themselves also demonstrate compassion, as when a group of elephants patiently wait for a lame elephant to catch up with them, or when a mouse writhes in empathy with another mouse in pain. See also empathy.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Cruel

Wilfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.

Domesticate

To tame (an animal), especially by generations of breeding; to live in close association with human beings as a pet or work animal and usually creating a dependency so that the animal loses it ability to live in the wild.

Eartipping

Eartipping is painlessly removing a quarter inch off the top of a feral cat’s left ear while the cat is anaesthetised for spay/neutering. Eartipping is the universal symbol of and only proven way to permanently identify a feral cat who’s been evaluated, vaccinated and sterilized. It ensures that a sterile cat won’t undergo unnecessary repeat trapping and surgery.

Empathy

An emotional capacity that enables us to understand another individual’s feelings from his or her own point of view. If you know how another person feels, or can imagine what it might be like to experience the world of a bat, a dog or an eagle, then you are feeling empathy. (Empathy is similar to sympathy, althought the latter suggests feeling sorry for another individual who is suffering.) Empathy for animals is an important quality for us to bring to decision making about humans’ relationships with the animal world. Studies who that many nonhuman animals also display empathy for one another. See also compassion.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Ethics

A branch of philosophy concerned with issues of rightness or fairness and how we should behave toward others. An ‘ethic’ (in the singular) means a set of principles or values that guide an activity; for example, the ethical values that govern how scientific research is conducted with animals would determine a research ethic.

From Bekoff, Marc (2007), Animals Matter, Boston: Shambala Publications

Euthanasia

Also called mercy killing. The act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme Medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition.

Killing a healthy animal is not ‘euthanasia’, it is ‘killing’.

Feeding Station

A feeding station is an area, usually including a structure protected from the weather, where a feral cat colony is fed. Building a feeding station and establishing a specific area for feeding can help camouflage where the cats eat and make colony management easier on the caregiver. The goal is for this area to not be visible to the public. Feeding stations help deter insects from the food by raising it off of the ground; having a roof protects the food from the elements. It also helps with Trap Neuter Return efforts, since cats are fed at the same place every day, making it easy to know where to trap. Also, you can gradually and easily move the feeding stations when needed to address neighbourhood concerns.

Find out more about feeding feral cat colonys here: Providing Food & Water.

Feral Cat

A cat who is too unsocialised to be handled and placed in a typical pet home. The cat may have been born to feral parents or may be a stray or abandoned cat who has become unsocialised.

The ‘feralness’ of a cat should never be judged in the first 24 hours of capture as many domestics will respond with fear to being trapped and may appear feral.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Find out more about feral cats here.

High Volume Spay/Neuter

High volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinics abound in the States. Sadly there’s not to many of them in Ireland, but they can be arranged. High volume simply means spay/neutering in high volume – the clinic is set up to neuter cats quickly and efficiently, with no loss of quality and care. Thus a high volume of cats can be spayed in a short period of time. Obviously very useful for TNR projects.

Maltreatment

Actions (or inactions) that threaten a dependent individual’s welfare. Includes abuse and neglect.

Neglect

Failure to fulfil the dependent individual’s needs. Unintentional, a passive process.

Neutering

The surgical removal of the testicles in male animals, rendering them sterile. Can also be used to refer to either male or female surgeries. Synonymous with ‘sterilisation’.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

No-Kill / Low-Kill / Kill Shelters

[From Wikipedia]

“A Kill shelter is an animal shelter where animals are killed if they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be suitable for adoption or due to lack of shelter space. No-Kill shelters reject killing as a means of population control.”

Low-Kill shelters use killing as a means of population control but minimise such killings using a selection of programmes and services.

Socialised

An animal who is not afraid of people, particularly in a familiar environment; often used synonymously with ‘tame’.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Find out more about socialised cats here.

Spaying

The surgical removal of the female reporductive tract, including the ovaries and the uterus (womb).

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Sterilisation

The general term for spaying or neutering animal companions so that they are unable to reproduce.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Sterilisation, low-cost

Surgery performed at an actual cost low enough to be affordable to a large percentage of the local population, i.e. if a surgery costs the owner/caretaker €35 and it costs the veterinarian €30, then it is a low-cost spay or neuter. Commonly used incorrectly to refer to inexpensive surgeries.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Sterilisation, subsidised

Spay or neuter surgery in which the difference in cost between what the caretaker/owner pays and what the surgery costs the veterinarian is paid for by someone other than the caretaker/owner to make the surgery affordable to a large percentage of the lcoal population, i.e., if the owner/caretaker pays €20 and it costs the veterinarian €35, then the veterinarian or some other group must pay the difference. Most spays and neuters referred to as ‘low-cost’ are actually subsidised.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Stray Cat

A currently or recently owned cat lost from the home. The owner may be looking for the cat and the cat may or may not be reunited with the owner. Such cats are usually fairly well socialised.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Tame

A typical pet who is friendly towards people, especially familiar ones.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Targeted Trapping

Targeted trapping is trapping within a specific targeted area, be it a single colony on a farm, or all the cats in a village, a townland or a county – or the whole of Ireland! Basically, it’s a method of TNRing an entire colony at a time before moving on to the next surrounding colonies in a specific geographic location. Newcomers entering completed colonies are immediately TNRed. Find out more on our Targeted Trapping pages.

Trap Neuter Return (TNR)

A general approach to controlling fereal cats that includes sterilisation of the cats and return to their original location. Other health care may or may not be provided and ongoing care, while usually available, may not be present.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Trap, remove and kill

A completely different approach from trap, neuter and return. Cats are killed after removal from the colony. This doesn’t solve any problems.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Trap, Test, Vaccinate, Alter, Return, Monitor/Manage (TTVAR-M)

A specific level of care under the general trap, neuter, return approach. ‘Test’ means that cats are tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and/or feline immunosuppressive virus (FIV). In many situations where cats are tested, positive cats are not returned to the colony. Testing the component of TTVAR-M which is mostly likely to be omitted. Vaccination, at least for rabies, is required (except countries, like Ireland, that are rabies-free). Vaccination for the respiratory and distemper viruses and for feline leukemia are optional.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Vasectomy

A surgical procedure in male cats that makes them unable to fertilise a female but does not remove the testicles or alter the typical male cat behaviours.

From Slater, Margaret R (2002), Community Approaches to Feral Cats, Washington: Humane Society Press

Vivisection

The action of cutting into or dissecting a living body; the practice of subjecting living animals to cutting operations, especially in order to advance physiological and pathological knowledge.

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