By keeping cats outdoors, trap-neuter-release policies have troubling consequences for city residents, local wildlife—and even the cats themselves.
“This past June, at the height of kitten season in Los Angeles, Gail Raff got a call for help from the neighborhood of Valley Glen, where a young woman had trapped a cat that needed fixing. Although the City of Los Angeles subsidizes the sterilization of unowned cats, appointments at clinics are hard to come by, and Raff was known in the animal-rescue world as a trapper who secures as many appointments as she can. Arriving in Valley Glen, she learned that the young woman, alarmed by the number of cats in her neighborhood, had been doing her best to feed them. Now they were having babies all over the place, and she wanted to do the socially responsible thing. She gave Raff the address of a “problem” house, not far from hers, where the cats were concentrated. Raff promised to come back and start trapping as soon as she got more appointments.
A month later, on a warm evening in the San Fernando Valley, I joined Raff on a mission to the problem house. With us was Orly Kroh, a good friend of Raff’s for more than forty years, who is also a trapper. Both women are outgoing and glowingly complected, in the Southern California way, and both were wearing black. In gathering dusk, Raff took two cage traps from the back of her Mazda CX-7, covered their floors with newsprint, which protects a desperate cat from injuring its claws, and baited them with chunks of sardine.