Cats, nonhuman resistance, and precarious life beyond biopolitical techniques of making-live
Contemporary Social Science
Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences
Received 31 Jan 2019, Accepted 07 Sep 2019, Published online: 22 Sep 2019
Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies,
Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
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Under traditional programmes, unclaimed cats entering animal shelters were euthanized by barbiturate injection; since the implementation of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), cats are sterilised and returned to the streets. TNR cats are not only made to live – they are made to work for politics through a technique of tracking live releases from the shelter system to gain public support. However, biopolitical techniques are more than counting – life persists beyond the statistic. This paper traces the underexplored consequences of ‘nuisance wildlife’ removal laws in the ‘no kill’ era of TNR-only programmes in Miami. Trapped cats can be processed as ‘nuisance wildlife’, and killed by gassing, rather than by the only lawful method for killing cats in a shelter: lethal injection. How does TNR, created to make cats live, result in new vulnerabilities and incongruous cat deaths? This case study makes visible both known and unforeseen nonhuman vulnerabilities when biopolitical techniques are implemented without consideration for the complex systems of power at play within the apparatuses of nonhuman animal management. The precarious lives of cats suspended between wild and domestic, wanted and unwanted, and across political and legal purviews, requires greater engagement with the frameworks of killability for domestic and wild species.