AVMA approves updated policy on free-roaming abandoned and feral cats

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has updated its policy on free-roaming abandoned and feral cats to encourage collaboration among veterinarians, humane groups and wildlife conservation entities in efforts to reduce these cat populations in a humane and ethical manner.

While emphasizing that there is no “single solution” to reduce the population of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats, the policy states that approaches should give consideration “to the welfare of the cats and wildlife themselves, the ecosystem in which the intervention will be conducted, the expertise and abilities of those implementing the intervention, societal and cultural attitudes, and public health.”

The updated policy, approved by the AVMA House of Delegates on January 9 at its regular winter session, was the result of more than two years of discussion and review among a broad range of stakeholders, including the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee, Committee on Environmental Issues, and Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, as well as others having feline, avian and wildlife interests and expertise.

The updated policy reflects extensive review and compromise among major stakeholders and was revised to reflect new information, help build consensus, and provide leadership per the management of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats,” said Dr. Joseph Kinnarney, president of the AVMA.

Dr. Kinnarney explained the policy was the result of “great efforts” to represent the diverse viewpoints related to the issue of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats, while maintaining scientific credibility and a policy that provides valuable and practical information for AVMA members and the public.

“The revised policy represents iterative progress toward resolving the free-roaming abandoned and feral cat problem, while recognizing that there is currently not consensus around what an ultimate solution will look like,” Dr. Kinnarney said. “It also points to the veterinary profession as a key player in developing approaches that are both science-based and socially responsible.”

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