Vacuum effect: basic points
“A habitat will support a population of a certain size. No matter how many animals are removed, if the resources remain (food, for example, and shelter), the population will eventually recover.”*
“Sooner or later, the empty habitat attracts other members of the species from neighbouring areas, who move in to take advantage of the same resources (food and shelter) that attracted the first group.”
“Killing or removing the original population does nothing to eliminate these resources; it only creates a “vacuum” that will inevitably draw in other animals living nearby.”
Arguments against a Catch and Kill
“Any cats remaining after a catch and kill effort will produce more kittens and these will have a higher rate because of the reduction in rcompetition, thus re-filling the habitat to capacity. Over time, the number of cats in an area where a feral cat colony has been killed or relocated will simply recover and return to its original size.”
‘Catch and kill, because it does not in the long run solve the problem of unwanted cats, is a waste of time, energy and money, not to mention being cruel and, ultimately, useless.’
Arguments against Relocation
Unless the underlying issue (food and shelter) is addressed, the vacuum-effect created by relocating and/or killing cats will simply allow other kittens and cats to take advantage of the available resources.
If, however, the food and shelter issue can be significantly addressed (ie: removed), then the benefit of relocation is that the cats are spared being put to death.
In our view, the most satisfying solution is T-N-R: Trap-Neuter-Release. It is neither instant nor easy, but it provides the positive solution of controlling what can be an uncontrollable situation. Cats are trapped, taken to a veterinarian and sterilized, then brought back and released where they were trapped. Any new cats, as they appear, are caught as well and sterilized, thus keeping the size of the colony under control, thus benefitting both cats and people!
*All quotations and paraphrases taken from “The Vacuum Effect: Why Catch and Kill Doesn’t Work,” published by Alley Cat Allies, http://www.alleycat.org
DID YOU KNOW…?
- Ailurophilia is the “love of cats.”
- A cat’s heart beats twice as fast as a human heart, at 110 to 140 beats per minute.
The largest cat breed is the Ragdoll. Males weigh twelve to twenty pounds, with females weighing ten to fifteen pounds. The smallest cat breed is the Singapura. Males weigh about six pounds while females weigh about four pounds.
- An average cat has 1-8 kittens per litter, and 2-3 litters per year, depending on where in the world they live. Local cats, because of our seasons of heat and light, typically can litter twice per year, most usually in the spring and fall.
- Cats have 290 bones in their bodies, and 517 muscles.
- “People arre the main cause of wildlife depletion. Studies show that the overwhelming causes of wildlife and bird death are not cats and other creatures, but habitat loss, urbanization, pollution, and environmental degradation – all caused by humans!” (from alleycat.org)