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Should FIV-Positive Feral Cats Be Released After TNR?

Lately, there’s been a lot of mixed opinions about whether or not it’s right to release feral cats after they’ve tested positive for FIV while undergoing TNR. Although not everyone who does TNR is in favor of FIV testing, some are, and well, depending on that person’s personal standpoint, a positive result could automatically mean euthanasia for a feral cat. However, both sides have their own valid arguments and clearly have the best interests of humans and felines at heart. What’s unfortunate, though, is that the differences in opinions have pitted cat lover against cat lover, and veterinarian against veterinarian. Some donors have even resorted to withholding funds from animal welfare groups and organizations that don’t share the same views as them. Yep, it has reached that point!

The feud has indeed divided the animal care community, but hopefully, we can all eventually learn to understand both sides of the story and come up with a compromise that works for everyone, especially our feline friends. To kick off that movement, let’s go over the reasons why some people are in favor of releasing FIV-positive feral cats and others are not.


Why Are Some Cat Lovers Against the Release of FIV-Positive Feral Cats?

Should FIV-Positive Feral Cats Be Released After TNR?One of the main reasons why some people are completely against releasing FIV-positive feral cats back to their colonies is because they don’t want to risk other community cats getting infected. While TNR programs do help in reducing the likelihood of aggressive catfights, which is the major cause of the spread of FIV, the possibility is always there. In this case, it’s a matter of preserving the health of the remaining uninfected cats.

Another reason is that they want to keep FIV-positive feral cats from experiencing a slow death from the disease, given that FIV is incurable and will continue to worsen as time passes. However, it’s different for every person. For some, all FIV-positive cats—whether or not they’re showing signs of illness—undergo routine euthanasia, while for others, only those that are sick and clearly suffering are euthanized. All things considered, everyone is simply looking for a humane way to improve the lives of our feral friends.


Why Are Feral Cat Advocates in Favor of Releasing FIV-Positive Feral Cats?

Should FIV-Positive Feral Cats Be Released After TNR?Most feral cat advocate groups and organizations, including feral cat caretakers and feral-friendly veterinarians involved in TNR programs, say that releasing FIV-positive feral cats into the community is the right thing to do. Standing their ground, they back up their views with thorough research and statistics. According to Alley Cat Allies, a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that, just like house cats, only 4 percent of community cats contract FIV. Now, that’s an incredibly low rate to begin with, but in combination with TNR, it can drop even lower! FIV is mainly spread through deep bite wounds (those that actually draw blood), and with TNR working to minimize the likelihood of aggression between feral cats, we can see why they’re in favor of releasing FIV-positive feral cats into the community.

If you’re thinking that the protocol is the same for all feral cats, then that’s not the case. Once a feral cat is trapped and checked for diseases, a decision that works best for the feline in question is made. If the feral cat appears to be healthy and in good condition, then they’ll be allowed to live the rest of their lives with their fellow community cats, but will be closely monitored. However, if they’re showing signs of severe infection and are obviously in pain, they’ll be euthanized.

In short, the goal is to make the lives of these cats easier and more comfortable. Feral cats are considered wild animals and are fully content with spending their lives outdoors. Since adoption is not an option for these guys, TNR is a great way to help them out. Not only does it help control the feral cat population and reduce the spread of FIV, but it also keeps feral cats from developing certain forms of cancer (ovarian and uterine cancer for females; testicular cancer for males).


After seeing both perspectives, which one do you personally resonate with and why? Let us know in the comments!