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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cats and Wildlife: A New Approach to Addressing Cat Over-Population in the Portland Metropolitan Region


Throughout the country, efforts to reduce cat over-population have led to highly acrimonious confrontations between bird advocates and cat advocates. The situation in Portland, Oregon provides a rare exception to this rule. The Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon have a long history of working collaboratively. The two organizations, in conjunction with local animal shelters, have launched an aggressive effort to address both cat over-population and bird predation in ways that are good for both cats and birds and which respect the values of both cat and bird advocates. The Cats Safe at Home™ Campaign includes landscape scale population reduction efforts including Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), targeted removal from natural areas, targeted education and enforcement at hotspots such at apartment complexes, and shelter-based strategies. It also includes maintaining legal mechanisms for property owners that want to remove cats from their own properties, indemnity for native predatory species such as coyotes that prey upon free-roaming cats, best management practices for caring for feral cat colonies, and research into the efficacy of population control efforts on the ground and attitudinal changes of the local human population regarding free-roaming cats. Some have suggested that this approach, and specifically the inclusion of TNR based strategies, is akin to waving the white flag on cat predation of birds. We see it as exactly the opposite. We believe that the Portland Metropolitan Region has the potential to make real headway on an issue that has seen little evidence of success anywhere in the continental United States over the past century. We have a community that cares passionately about its animals; we have outstanding and well-supported domestic and wild animal advocacy organizations; and we have an aggressive agenda to reduce cat over-population. We believe that by adopting a range of strategies that include TNR, by working together, and by focusing on results, positive change is within our reach.

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