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Bill Swanson [00:00:00] We've been devoting more and more attention to dog and cat overpopulation, in our case, mainly cat overpopulation, in the United States and globally.

Bill Swanson [00:00:09] And here in the United States, we have about 80 million what we call "free-roaming cats." They're not all feral cats, but these are cats that live outdoors and they're not really owned by any one person, or are cared for by any one person.

Bill Swanson [00:00:22] And those animals, they have pretty short, brutish lives. I mean, most of them, you know, might live for a couple of years, but inevitably they get hit by a car, they get attacked by a dog, they get some infectious disease, and a lot of them just don't live very long. And when they die, it's not in a very pleasant way. So there's an animal welfare concern.

Bill Swanson [00:00:43] But from a conservation perspective, which is where a lot of my attention goes, they are like the ultimate predator. You wouldn't believe how adept domestic cats are at killing wild prey. And even a domestic cat that has lived in your house his whole life, if you put it in an outdoor environment, and it sees a bird or a mouse, it knows instinctively how to hunt that animal. It may not know how to kill it effectively. But hunting is ingrained in their DNA, and they never really lose that. Even your house cat, you can see him following the birds at the feeder. So they're, they're ultimate hunters and they're very good hunters.

Bill Swanson [00:01:20] The downside of that is when you have 80 million of them out in the environment and they're hunting wild birds, you lose hundreds of millions of birds every year. And wild bird populations, like wild cats, are being hammered, they're really in decline. A lot of different factors, but one of the main ones is predation, and primarily by domestic cats.

Bill Swanson [00:01:41] So as a conservationist - and I love cats, and I have cats at my house, I work with cats all the time, so I'm not an anti-cat person, I adore cats - but I do think that, in an outdoor environment, they're devastating.

Bill Swanson [00:01:53] And so as a society, we have a need to be able to control those populations. And traditionally what we've done is we will capture those animals, take them to a veterinarian, and do a spay or neuter, so depending on if it's a male or female. And spaying cats is a surgical procedure. It's an abdominal surgery. It's pretty invasive.

Bill Swanson [00:02:16] And then once those cats recover, then they usually go up for adoption. In some locations where they have trap / neuter / return programs, they put them back into the environment that they came from.

Bill Swanson [00:02:28] But it's very labor-intensive. It's very expensive. And you need a veterinarian. The veterinarians are kind of the bottleneck, because they have to do this surgical neutering.

Bill Swanson [00:02:37] So, what we've been involved with for the last six years is trying to develop a non-surgical sterilization method for domestic cats, primarily focused on these free-roaming cats, so that a layperson, not a veterinarian necessarily, but a layperson, can give an injection and cause this cat to become sterile.

Bill Swanson [00:02:57] And that removes that animal from the breeding population. And over time, if you sterilize enough of these animals, those free-ranging populations will decline, and hopefully we can lessen the impact that's being inflicted upon wild prey species.