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Study shows feral cat control could benefit from different approach
Date:8/15/2013

NORTH GRAFTON, Mass. (August 15, 2013) New research from Tufts University scientists shows that feral cats that undergo a vasectomy or hysterectomy could reduce a feral colony's numbers more effectively than the traditional approach of neutering. This may be because vasectomized cats retain reproductive hormones, in addition to not being able to reproduce, and therefore protect their turf from sexually intact competitors.

The findings, derived from a computer-based model and published in the August 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, support trap-vasectomy-hysterectomy-release (TVHR) as a better alternative to trap-neuter-release (TNR). While used with success in small colonies and controlled environments, the data is lacking to support TNR's efficacy over large areas, noted Robert J. McCarthy, D.V.M., lead author and clinical associate professor of small animal surgery at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

"This opens up new conversations," McCarthy said. "The computer model indicates that vasectomy and hysterectomy should be much more effective at reducing or eliminating feral cat populations than the traditional approach of neutering. The next step is to gather evidence on how it actually works in the field."

Even small populations of feral cats can have a negative impact on public health and other wildlife. Neutering, a surgical procedure which involves castration or removal of the uterus and ovaries, is used as an alternative to lethal means in feral cat population control. Dominant males that are castrated in a TNR program become sexually inactive and are replaced in the breeding hierarchy by the next most dominant male. It is also difficult or impossible to capture all resident cats so sexually intact cats that haven't been captured repopulate an area quickly. Spayed and neutered cats live longer so the population does not decrease as fast as it would o
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Contact: Rushmie A Nofsinger
rushmie.nofsinger@tufts.edu
508-839-7910
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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