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Is it more humane to euthanize stray cats than to return them to the streets after sterilization?

The “Trap-Neuter-Return” (TNR) approach has gone from an underground movement in the 1990s to an increasingly popular method of managing the nation’s feral cat population. Those who support it say it’s more humane than taking strays to shelters where most will be euthanized.

The disagreement turns on a slippery question: Does the alley cat live a good life?

The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and other supporters say the nation’s estimated 50 million to 150 million feral felines often live healthy lives. They also say TNR has added benefits: After a cat colony is sterilized, nuisance behaviors such as fighting and yowling are reduced, and the feral population stabilizes. Feral cats can keep rats in check, too.

Skeptics, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and some veterinarians, argue the life of an alley cat is rarely pleasant. In many cases, they say it’s actually more humane to euthanize cats, rather than condemn them to a harsh life on the streets.


Asked by tasches at 5:52 PM on May. 25, 2011 in Pets

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Answers (14)
  • Are you kidding me? anything is better than euthanasia!!!! they are out to roam and catch birds, mice and nice people who might feed them once in a while, at least this way they have a chance at life, as oppose to none!


    Answer by older at 5:55 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • I think if they look healthy they should be released, for one they might have a home and they can make their way back there, two if they look healthy they've been doing okay. I really don't like seeing adult cats caged in the shelter because they rarely get adopted.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 5:55 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • Yeah given the choice between a hard lif or death, I'm pretty sure I would choose a hard life every time.

    Answer by Xynyth at 5:56 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • this is why it is so important to spay and neuter your animals. After sterilization I think its more humane to send them back to the streets.  Actually, I dont know what I think on this issue.


    Answer by mommiedear at 5:57 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • i am really on the fence on this one. my sister has been collecting cats and have them "fixed" for some time now. she feels they have a better life being wild then being put to sleep.

    Answer by shanesmom24 at 5:58 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • Where my sister works, there are lots of stray cats. Through the SPCA, she has trapped and had 4 fixed over the last few months. She ended up keeping 3 of the 4, the other she let back out where he came from. She feeds them each day and I would guarantee they are happier there than if they were put down. Yeah, it is sad that they do not have a loving home, but they do have a life!!! I think what she is doing is great!!

    Answer by AngieBry at 6:02 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • Sometimes Euthanasia is a necessary evil. I have done the spay/neuter release myself many times over the years but I have Euthanized many of them. When they are sick or have a disease that can be passed to other cats I think it is the humane thing to do. However most truly feral cats can not be tamed so releasing them back into a familar environment is better then sending them to a shelter where in many cases they would live out their live(no kill shelters)


    Answer by KyliesMom5 at 10:05 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • If they are healthy, why not? Now if they had contagious and fatal diseases or they were an inch from death anyway, then yes. It's better to euthanize.

    Answer by MamaStuart at 9:41 PM on May. 26, 2011

  • Not sure death is a better alternative....

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 5:53 PM on May. 25, 2011

  • We live in the country and have caught, had fixed and released 25 cats in the last 5 years. Several have stayed around and have all the food, clean water and shelter (in our sheds) that a cat could want. In return we have no vermin in our sheds. These are not cats who would be happy inside.

    Answer by Keksie at 6:43 PM on May. 25, 2011

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