Part of Ireland's TNR Manual
How to Help Community Cats
It's estimated over 300,000 kittens are born in Ireland every year. Of those 180,000 kittens die before they are 4 months old. Kitten Mortality is high in Ireland for a number of reasons:
Animals aren't very well cared for as a rule.
Overpopulation and fertility
Very few people seem to understand that neutering is better for the cat and is essential where overpopulation is such a problem. As a result:
- Far too many kittens are born to already overburdened feral and stray populations in the wild and in farms, smallholdings and households. There's not enough food to go round. Malnourishment is rife. Bad in itself, malnourishment also means the cats and kittens have less behind them to fight off infection.
- Unneutered tom cats fight and spread disease. In particular, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV) and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) are the two terminal diseases tested for in stray and feral cats. The prevalence of these diseases and the discomfort and pain suffered by infected cats could be reduced immensely by a neutering programme.
- The huge overpopulation problem means that many cat rescue centres kill cats and kittens as homes can't be found for them and re-releasing them is sometimes not an option. Animal Advocacy has a no-kill policy (except where euthanasia is the kindest option for very ill animals). Well planned and executed Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programmes would reduce the need for other rescue centres to kill healthy felines.
In addition to FIV and FeLV, mentioned above, there are a number of other diseases prevalent in the feline population. Many of them could be reduced or avoided through vaccination of domestic cats - again, not common practice in Ireland. Many others could be reduced through neutering, as mentioned above. These include:
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- Panleukopenia (aka Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE))
- Chlamydia virus
- Feline Rhinotracheitis
- Ill Thrift (Fading Kitten Syndrome)
People torture and kill animals for fun: drivers run over wildlife and domestic animals intentionally; teenagers and adults throw kittens to dogs; a butcher in Skibbereen cut a cat's leg off with a cleaver, because he could. There's more, but you get the idea.
Nature is cruel and even healthy, well-cared for kittens die.