Trap-Neuter-Return is the best way to ensure that cats live longer, healthier lives while reducing the size of feral cat colonies. Smaller colonies means fewer cats vulnerable to the elements, sickness, accidents, and predators…both animal and human. Neutered male cats are less likely to fight amongst themselves and spayed female cats can actually enjoy their lives without the burden of pregnancy and the danger of giving birth in the wild. And yes, feral cats do enjoy their lives. I’ve seen it because I worked hands-on with a feral colony. Colony caretakers love the cats, know their individual personalities, and adopt the cats that are adoptable. Even some domesticated cats just prefer being outside. I keep my cats inside mainly to protect them from people, and also because I’d never sleep a wink if I didn’t know where they were. But just because a cat lives full-time or part-time outside doesn’t mean they deserve to die.
There will always be feral cat colonies because we’ll never spay or neuter every cat and some cats will always find their way outside despite our best efforts. The goal is to keep the colony size small because it’s best for the cats’ health, it makes the colony easier to care for, and it lessens the chances of problems with people who think there should be no outdoor cats.
FYI, cats are usually vaccinated during the T-N-R process so you don’t have to worry about catching rabies from a feral cat, and a feral cat is more likely to run away from you than towards you, anyway. You can learn more about T-N-R at http://www.alleycat.org/Trap-Neuter-Return.