Reproductive capacity of free-roaming domestic cats and kitten survival rate. [Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t]

Environmental Medicine Consortium and Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Impact Factor: 1.56). 12/2004; 225(9):1399-402. DOI: 10.2460/javma.2004.225.1399
Source: PubMed


To determine reproductive capacity of naturally breeding free-roaming domestic cats and kitten survival rate.
Prospective cohort and retrospective cross-sectional study.
2,332 female cats brought to a trap-neuter-return clinic for neutering and 71 female cats and 171 kittens comprising 50 litters from a cohort study of feral cats in managed colonies.
Data collected for all cats included pregnancy, lactation, and estrus status and number of fetuses for pregnant cats. Additional data collected for feral cats in managed colonies included numbers of litters per year and kittens per litter, date of birth, kitten survival rate, and causes of death.
Pregnant cats were observed in all months of the year, but the percentage of cats found to be pregnant was highest in March, April, and May. Cats produced a mean of 1.4 litters/y, with a median of 3 kittens/litter (range, 1 to 6). Overall, 127 of 169 (75%) kittens died or disappeared before 6 months of age. Trauma was the most common cause of death.
Results illustrate the high reproductive capacity of free-roaming domestic cats. Realistic estimates of the reproductive capacity of female cats may be useful in assessing the effectiveness of population control strategies.

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    • "Published estimates of the number of free roaming cats in the USA over the last decade vary from 25 million to 100 million (Robertson, 2008). Free roaming cats are prolific breeders, with females often producing their first litter before they reach 1 year of age and bearing multiple litters each year thereafter (Nutter et al., 2004). In trap–neuter–vaccinate–return (TNVR) programs, free roaming cats are surgically sterilized and vaccinated against rabies by veterinarians, then returned to the site of trapping. "

    Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · The Veterinary Journal
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    • "Preventing such input defies simplistic solutions, because although 93% of cat owners were willing to have their own pets surgically sterilized, it is unrealistic to expect the 7% of the population that feeds an average of 3 stray cats to assume the hundreds of dollars necessary to surgically alter these cats. Conversely, the cost of not altering the cats is to add 3.5 kittens per year (Nutter, Levine & Stoskopf, 2004; Pedersen, 1991) for each stray female, which at the cost to a shelter of approximately $250 per cat would cost a shelter almost $900 in husbandry expenses for those 3.5 kittens; were they not sheltered, the kittens would be expected to have 75% mortality (Table 1). The underscores why low-cost spay and neuter programs directed to reducing the un-owned and feral cat populations continue to be integral to not only reducing cat mortality at the shelters, but also to managing the cost to the various municipalities to handle and house the stray cats. "
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    ABSTRACT: The measurable benefits of animal control programs are unknown and the aim of this study was to determine the impact of these programs on pet population changes. A prospective cross-sectional study of 1000 households was implemented in 2005 to evaluate characteristics of the owned and unowned population of dogs and cats in Santa Clara County, California. The same population was previously studied 12 years earlier. During this time period, the county instituted in 1994 and then subsequently disestablished a municipal spay/neuter voucher program for cats. Dog intakes declined from 1992-2005, as they similarly did for an adjacent county (San Mateo). However, cat intakes declined significantly more in Santa Clara County than San Mateo, with an average annual decline of approximately 700 cats for the 12 year period. Time series analysis showed a greater than expected decline in the number of cats surrendered to shelters in Santa Clara County during the years the voucher program was in effect (1994-2005). The net savings to the county by reducing the number of cat shelter intakes was estimated at approximately $1.5 million. The measurable benefits of animal control programs are unknown and the aim of this study was to determine the impact of these programs on pet population changes.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · PeerJ
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    • "rate of kittens born to colony cats was set at 50% (Nutter et al. 2004). At least 40% of kittens born needed to be adopted for trap-neuter-release to extirpate the modeled cat colony (Table 1). "
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    ABSTRACT: Our goal was to determine whether it is more cost-effective to control feral cat abundance with trap-neuter-release programs or trap and euthanize programs. Using STELLA 7, systems modeling software, we modeled changes over 30 years in abundance of cats in a feral colony in response to each management method and the costs and benefits associated with each method . We included costs associated with providing food, veterinary care, and microchips to the colony cats and the cost of euthanasia, wages, and trapping equipment in the model. Due to a lack of data on predation rates and disease transmission by feral cats the only benefits incorporated into the analyses were reduced predation on Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus). When no additional domestic cats were abandoned by owners and the trap and euthanize program removed 30,000 cats in the first year, the colony was extirpated in at least 75% of model simulations within the second year. It took 30 years for trap-neuter-release to extirpate the colony. When the cat population was supplemented with 10% of the initial population size per year, the colony returned to carrying capacity within 6 years and the trap and euthanize program had to be repeated, whereas trap-neuter-release never reduced the number of cats to near zero within the 30-year time frame of the model. The abandonment of domestic cats reduced the cost effectiveness of both trap-neuter-release and trap and euthanize. Trap-neuter-release was approximately twice as expensive to implement as a trap and euthanize program. Results of sensitivity analyses suggested trap-neuter-release programs that employ volunteers are still less cost-effective than trap and euthanize programs that employ paid professionals and that trap-neuter-release was only effective when the total number of colony cats in an area was below 1000. Reducing the rate of abandonment of domestic cats appears to be a more effective solution for reducing the abundance of feral cats.
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