Published on:  
Oct 22, 2015

If someone traps or brings in a healthy cat, and we can't take it at this time, is it okay to tell them to just let it go?

Dear Million Cat Challenge,

If someone traps or brings in a healthy cat, and we say we can't take it at this time, is it okay to tell them to just let it go? – Wondering
Dear Wondering,  

In this situation, ideally the person calling or bringing in the cat would be referred to other alternatives to have the cat sterilized, such as TNR groups or veterinarians within the community that offer this service. 

Additionally, you can provide the finder of the cat with information on how to mitigate whatever nuisance or concerns are associated with the cat, whether that be putting mechanical cat repellants in their garden or covering their car; or, if they are worried about it, offering food and shelter to the cat and eventually re-trapping to get it sterilized. 

But yes, if the alternative is admission of the cat and holding to almost certain euthanasia, which will not solve the problem in a long-term sense, letting the person know they need to just take the cat back where they found her and let her go would be an appropriate response. This has long been the response most shelters have made to people trapping wildlife, recognizing that allowing the animals to be killed or relocated will not solve the problem.

Dr. Kate Hurley