AVMA adopts position statement on abandoned and feral cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

SCHAUMBERG, Illinois––The neuter/
release approach to feral cat control came of age on
July 19, when as one of the first orders of business
under new president Mary Beth Leininger the
American Veterinary Medical Association board ratified
a set of neuter/release guidelines.
The full statement:
The AVMA encourages and supports
actions to eliminate the problem of abandoned and/or
feral cats. The actions by humane, animal control,
wildlife, and public health agencies that will minimize
the numbers and impact of abandoned and/or
feral cats include a combination of activities such as
licensing requirements; discouraging free roaming
cats; requiring rabies vaccinations for cats and issuing
citations for unvaccinated animals; encouraging
permanent animal identification; and encouraging

If local and state ordinances permit abandoned
and/or feral cats to be maintained in “managed
colonies” during an interim period until the colony
size can be reduced and eliminated by attrition, then
the following minimum requirements should be
implemented for the benefit of the animals’ and the
publics’ health and welfare. Abandoned and/or feral
cats that are not in “managed colonies” should be
removed from their environment and treated in the
same manner as other abandoned or stray animals in
accordance with local and state ordinances.
1. The colony should be restricted to a
well-defined relatively safe area, and not on lands
managed for wildlife or other natural resources (e.g.
state parks, wildlife refuges, etc.). Written permission
of the landowner should be obtained.
2. The primary care giver(s) should register
with local animal control to prevent interference
with the colony, and to allow identification of individual
members of the colony.
3. There should be a written protocol and
matching record keeping system to ensure daily care
for the animals, including personnel scheduling,
feeding (day time only), watering, shelter maintenance,
health monitoring, and census taking.
4. Maintenance of an ongoing health care
program which provides universal vaccinations,
medical and/or surgical care, and parasite control.
5. Humane capture to allow for: (a) health
examination; (b) serologic screening tests for infectious
diseases (adoption or euthanasia if positive);
(c) sterilization (early age gonadectomy if appropriate);
(d) animal identification (ear tipping, microchips,
or ear studs); (e) adoption of new kittens,
newcomers to the colony, and all socializable adult
cats with the goal of eventual elimination of the
colony by attrition; (f) return to the colony or euthanitization
of those cats that can not be socialized.
6. A written program of education and
training should be provided for all care givers. This
should include uniform standards and procedures for
colony maintenance, as well as public health, occupational
safety and environmental issues.
7. Signage should be provided indicating
that animal abandonment is an infraction, and that
abandoned cats may be turned over to animal control
and indicating the dates and times animals are to be
trapped, to ensure that owned cats are kept inside at
that time.
8. A resource network for feral cat care
givers, humane activists, veterinarians, public
health officials, and animal control officers should
be established to share information, perspectives,
and cooperative solution to the root causes of animal

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