Q: We moved to the country and built a house where we have few neighbors. There are lots of cats outside, and they’re multiplying. I began to put out milk and food. There’s a friendly tomcat and I’m planning to trap him and another gentle cat and spay or neuter them and then keep them around as our pets. My only problem is my husband, who hates cats. He’s allergic and afraid we’ll have too many cats. What do you suggest?
C. L., Cyberspace
A: “Good for you for caring for the stray cats,” said Dr. Anna Worth, president-elect of the American Animal Hospital Association. “What you’re doing is great, but you can do better by trapping them (the outdoor cats), having a veterinarian vaccinate for rabies and spay or neuter.” Then you return them (except adoptable young kittens) to your property, where you can continue to supplement food and watch them. As you point out, they’re multiplying, and this method – called trap, neuter, return (or TNR) – will stop the multiplying.
Of course, if you find a cat or cats who have an ID tag, you know they are owned. You can work with a local shelter to adopt any other friendly cats. Another resource to learn about TNR is the non-profit Alley Cat Allies.
Taking in any friendly cat as your own will virtually guarantee a far better quality of life for the cat than dealing with the elements and various other dangers of life outdoors. What’s more, you’ll benefit by sharing your life with a pair of pet cats. As for your unenlightened husband, Worth, who is in Bennington, Vt., says there’s hope. “In my experience, once the person who is skeptical about cats begins to play with and feed treats to the cat, they see what cats are really about and they build a bond. Caring for outdoor cats is great, and I hope you continue. But having a pair of pet cats who are a part of your family takes the relationship to an altogether different level.”