Below is the abstract to the article ‘Analyzing approaches to feral cat management – One size does not fit all,’ written by Michael K. Stoskopf and Felicia B. Nutter. The full article can be found here:

How to best solve the diverse issues related to feral cats is a complex question with many facets. Each facet reflects large gaps in our knowledge and understanding. Felid biology; global, regional, and local ecology; human psychology; sociology; economics; and theology are all examples of branches of learning that can contribute knowledge toward finding acceptable solutions to feral cat problems. Unfortunately, our understanding of any one of these disciplines is incomplete, particularly with regard to specific knowledge relevant to feral cats. Making informed decisions is therefore difficult at best. Discussions about feral cats often become emotionally charged, even when the discussion is among individuals with similar backgrounds. Perceptions based on personal experiences rapidly substitute for missing objective data, and interpretations of options become increasingly monochromatic. Over the years, I have been expounding to students a general rule based on my observations of scientific debate. The “Rule of Inverse Vehemence” states that the vehemence with which proponents of opposing views argue their points is inversely proportional to the quality of data available to support their positions. In other words, highly charged polemic disagreements are often fueled by insufficient, reliable, objectively collected, and properly analyzed data to support a unified position. My graduate student, Dr. Felicia Nutter, had the opportunity to experience discussions held by groups with very different perspectives on feral cat issues during the time she was formulating her graduate studies proposal, and that brought feral cats to my attention as a subject of scientific inquiry. Familiar with my “Rule of Inverse Vehemence,” Dr. Nutter proposed that the application of well-established wildlife biology research techniques to the study of feral cats could supply knowledge that may help reduce discord between respected colleagues. She pursued this question, and that is why I am speaking with you today. A review of the existing literature suggested that the “Rule of Inverse Vehemence” might apply. Although much has been written about feral cats, most reports are based on observations or extrapolations that do not follow well-established rules of scientific inquiry. Diary entries observing a single cat would be extrapolated by simple multiplication into the world or US population of cats—estimations that seriously defied accuracy in our experience. Reliably estimating populations of any animal, even on much smaller scales (counties and municipalities), requires carefully

designed sampling studies. We frequently encountered multiple-fold differences in statistics in the popular press, and there seemed to be a complete willingness to report these spurious numbers in otherwise scientific reports. Although an improvement over observations of a single cat, published scientific studies routinely examined only a single feral cat colony or created a pseudo-metastudy, ignoring major differences in experimental procedure and design. In almost all cases, even well-designed studies were conducted for very short times, limiting the potential for examining annual or, in many cases, even seasonal variations. Having reviewed the state of our knowledge, more questions arose than we could possibly study well. We hypothesized that variation between colonies could be responsible for much of the discord in published smallscale studies. Therefore, we chose to design our research to examine as large a sample of feral cat colonies as our limited resources could reliably support. A key goal was to better understand the scale of variability we should expect across colonies. Of the many questions of interest, 4 rose to the top of our list as veterinarians and seemed to fit within an integrated study design. These questions included the following: 1) how reliable is our understanding of feral cat reproduction potential, 2) what is the relative zoonotic risk of involvement with feral cats, 3) what is the feasibility of reliably implementing current recommendations for high-end management of feral cat colonies, and 4) how does management of feral cat colonies affect the populations of colonies? What we found and are continuing to find is appropriately being published in detail in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, but I am exploring these same questions during this presentation to illustrate 3 key points: 1) There is still much to learn about feral cats, 2) all feral cat colonies are not equal, and 3) high-intensity management of feral cat colonies can successfully reduce colonies to extinction, but the process requires a long-term commitment of resources and may be appropriate and successful for colonies in some situations but not for others