January 15, 2005


 Position on free-roaming abandoned and feral cats revised

Posted Jan. 1, 2005

The AVMA has adopted a revised position addressing the controversy surrounding free-roaming abandoned and feral cats. It replaces the existing position statement.

Members of the Animal Welfare Committee have been reviewing issues associated with free-roaming abandoned and feral cats since fall of 2002, partly because of its emergence as a major welfare matter and partly because of the Executive Board's mandated five-year review of all AVMA positions.

During their review, committee members considered information from peer-reviewed literature, as well as dialoguing with various AVMA entities, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, American Bird Conservancy, feral cat advocacy groups, and a number of researchers representing both sides of the issue.

Moreover, the committee chose "Management of Abandoned and Feral Cats" as the topic of the 2003 AVMA Animal Welfare Forum.

Committee members presented the document, which is similar to statements endorsed by the AAFP and American Animal Hospital Association, fully recognizing that there is no perfect solution to the problem.

The Executive Board approved a slightly amended version of the statement that encourages, rather than requires, that owned cats be kept indoors, in an outdoor enclosure, or on a leash.

"It's impractical and unenforceable to require such actions," observed Dr. René A. Carlson, AVMA vice president.

The Committee on Environmental Issues believe the former and revised statements do not do enough to address some very important issues, however, and has recommended that the board disapprove the AWC proposal and adopt a different statement. The position proposed by the AWC was adopted, whereas the CEI position was defeated. The new one is posted on the AVMA Web site