Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a non-lethal, three-step method to reduce the number of feral and stray cats both immediately and in the long term.
Step 1 – Trap: Feral or stray cats are trapped using a safe, humane, live trap.
Step 2 – Neuter: Trapped cats are spayed or neutered by a veterinarian.
Step 3 – Return: Fixed cats are returned to their home.
TNR benefits both the community and the cats.
TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reduces it.
The practice of TNR allows feral and outdoor cats to live their lives without adding to the overpopulation of homeless cats.
The pressure on local shelters and rescues is reduced by lowering the number of cats and kittens who flow into their doors.
The euthanasia rate for cats at shelters drops.
Outdoor cats who have been sterilized and live in a colony that has a caretaker have longer life spans than unmanaged outdoor cats.
A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. They are fearful of people and survive on their own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors. They may or may not have a caregiver.
An eartip is where the tip of the cat's left ear is removed in a straight line. Eartipping is an effective and universally accepted method to identify a spayed or neutered community cat. Eartipping is the preferred method to identify spayed or neutered and vaccinated community cats, because it is difficult to get close to them and therefore the identification must be visible from a distance.
Feral cats MUST come in full-sized live traps for the safety of the cat and our staff. Feral cats are fearful and dangerous to handle. They are anesthetized and recovered in the trap to limit handling and stress on the animal.
The R for Return in Trap-Neuter-Return is a very essential part of the process. If the goal is to keep the population decreasing vs increasing, fixed cats need to be returned to the location where they were trapped. What will surely happen if cats are not returned and simply eradicated is known as the “Vacuum Effect”.
Quite simply: A food source is a food source. Eliminating the cats does not eliminate the food source. New cats will come into the area and take over what has been left to them.
When all the cats in the colony are sterilized, they’re not apt to invite newcomers to the group. Why would they? They have no need to mate any longer so invitations won’t be presented to new cats and the fixed cats will guard their food source. Problem solved
Feeding and Sheltering
After you TNR your neighborhood stray and feral cats, you can continue helping them by becoming their caretaker!
Your outdoor cats need fresh food and water daily. A very inexpensive and practical feeding station can be made by cutting holes in the opposite short ends of a plastic tote. The holes on both ends ensure an entry AND an escape route should two cats who aren’t friends come to eat at the same time. Provide dry food and water in tip proof bowls if possible. When temperatures outside start dipping into freezing, you can obtain a heated dog water dish at any pet store.
Your cat shelter can be as simple as a straw filled dog house. Straw makes the best bedding as it keeps moisture from the cat. Fluff the straw every week or so and change it when it becomes overly wet. Never use electric blankets or heating pads outdoors. An inexpensive and easy shelter can be made by obtaining a heavy-duty Styrofoam cooler, cutting a mouse hole at the end of the long side and stuffing it with straw (not hay)
For every cat in this country to have a home, each American household would have to give residence to 49 cats. That’s not possible, OBVIOUSLY. So the feral cats who thrive outdoors and are happiest in their wild state, need to be left to being outside!
The ferals can take care of themselves. They are adapted to their environment and they like it like it is. Imagine someone taking YOU and forcing you to live in the WILD. Same difference.
Why not try to make them friendly?
Making an outdoor feral cat trusting of humans puts it in more danger than it would be if it stayed feral. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be kind to the cat that seems to want to be your new friend. Don’t spend your time trying to win the affections of a feral so that you can get it fixed. That my feral friends are what live-traps are for