Under a state-sanctioned, taxpayer-funded Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, cats lived comfortably on the grounds of Bayside State Prison in New Jersey for over a decade. On October 9, however, the cats received a rude awakening when the prison decided to implement a feeding ban, leaving the cats to starve to death.
More on the Feeding Ban
According to Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to helping cats, the feeding ban came as a complete shock to the community. There was no warning that the prison was entertaining this drastic measure.
Alley Cat Allies insist that they’ve repeatedly reached out to the Bayside State Prison with no progress. The animal advocacy organization even offered the prison free food for the cats, but the prison refused. Since the prison is unwilling to work with animal organizations, Alley Cat Allies is taking the issue all the way to the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
When Did Starving a Cat to Death Become Better Than TNR?
It’s still been over a month since the cats — who, as a species, are notorious for thriving on routine and for protecting their territory — have been fed.
Pet MD describes a common scenario in starving cats known as hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver. When the body is in starvation mode, the body will take fat stored in reserves and transfer those fats to the liver for energy. But a cat’s liver can’t handle too many fats, so not all of the fats are converted into energy, leading to a fatty and low functioning cat liver. A cat with a fatty liver usually has yellow eyes, and there are many complications that could’ve been prevented. Without treatment, death is unavoidable.
Comparatively, TNR programs have a much better outcome. After the cats are trapped, fixed and returned to their original colonies, caregivers can still look after the cats by providing food and water. Alley Cat Allies has a list of success stories where TNR programs worked. The Animal Defense League of Arizona (ADLA) agrees that TNR programs work.
A few benefits of TNR programs from ADLA are:
- Ending the breeding cycle
- Stabilizing cat population numbers
- Reducing the need (and cost) for extermination
- Minimizing unwanted behaviors, e.g. spraying, yowling and fighting
Side by side, it’s hard to understand why the Bayside State Prison would choose starvation over the TNR program already in place.
Events Leading Up to the Feeding Ban
Given the prison’s track-record, their choice isn’t that surprising in context. As reported in the Press of Atlantic City, around 11 months ago, allegations were swirling around that the same Bayside State Prison planned to “exterminate hundreds of cats after a years-long program designed to spay and neuter the critters.” With $10,000, over 300 cats have been spayed and neutered on the 1,100 acre, rural facility. The spay-and-neuter program began in 2005, but only 100 cats were fixed at the time. Naturally, the others started reproducing again.
The prison allegedly reached out to local animal organizations because they wanted all of the cats removed, but overcrowded and under-resourced shelters can’t meet that request. The prison allegedly contacted companies to fix, or exterminate, the issue, but a prison spokesperson told the Press of Atlantic City that the prison had “no plans to ‘euthanize cats en masse.”
Denying animals a basic necessity like food is criminal. It seems to me that starving the cats en masse is just another way of exterminating them en masse, minus the PR nightmare. But Care2 members, we can’t let the Bayside State Prison cats suffer in silence. They’re hungry, and they need fuel more than ever to survive the bitter New Jersey winter. Please contact the Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Corrections and urge him to lift the feeding ban here. You can also sign and share this petition demanding the end of the cruel feeding ban before it’s too late for the Bayside State Prison cats.