How TNR Programs
Can Save Communities
You can help control your community
cat population humanely and
WHAT IS TNR?
Trap-Neuter-Return, also known as TNR, is a method of reducing the free-roaming cat population by setting humane traps, spaying or neutering any trapped cat, and returning the cat to the original location after he or she has recovered from the spay/neuter surgery.
Humane traps are set in areas where the cats are known to frequent. Food, preferably something with a strong odor such as tuna, is put in the trap. In the photograph to the right from Best Friends Animal Society, you should be able to see that the cat will need to step on that raised ledge inside the trap in order to reach the enticing food. Once he or she steps on this ledge, it will trigger the door behind the kitty to shut quickly.
Photo by Best Friends Animal Society
Is TNR Effective?
Whether you are looking to control the outdoor cat population for humane reasons or your focus is simply on eliminating the distruption to your community, Trap-Neuter-Return programs are the most effective method. For example, a report conducted by Spehar and Wolf (2017) on the outdoor cat population in Newburyport, Massachusetts demonstrated the effectiveness of TNR. Over the course of 17 years, the free-roaming cat community (which peaked at an estimated 300 cats) in Newburyport was completely eradicated thanks to a rigorous TNR program.
Photo by UCAN CINCINNATI
HOW IT WORKS
Borrow or purchase a humane trap and bait the trap with wet food in a safe area.
Take the trapped cat to get spayed or neutered at your local feral-friendly clinic. The cat will be ear-tipped as well.
Keep the cat in the trap in a safe, temperature controlled space for 24 hours after surgery. When the cat is alert and no complications are noticed, open the trap and release the cat to the same area where trapped.
Why TNR is Best for Your Community
Most of us have encountered an outdoor cat colony, whether in our own community or near our places of employment. While most people don’t blink at having a couple neighborhood cats, unaltered cats (cats that have not been spayed or neutered) multiply quickly. While just how quickly they multiply is a hot debate topic, most can agree that five years later the colony will be significantly larger than the original number. Allowing free-roaming cats to reproduce puts an enormous strain on shelters. Many well-meaning people find kittens outdoors and drop them off at shelters. This results in overcrowding and shelters euthanizing for reasons outside of medical quality of life concerns.
For decades the accepted response to unwanted free-roaming cats involved lethal means. Killing outdoor cats is not only morally wrong, but it is also ineffective on reducing the free-roaming cat population. According to AlleyCatAllies, trapping and killing outdoor cats creates a vacuum effect and leaves room for more free-roaming cats to move in. Maricopa County Animal Care & Control agrees that trap and kill methods are ineffective. Their pamphlet on TNR states, “we have over 20 years of documented proof that traditional ways of dealing with feral cats don’t work. The ‘catch and kill’ method of population control (trap a cat, bring it to a shelter, ask that the cat be euthanized), has not reduced the number of feral cats. The cat may be gone, but now there is room for another cat to move in.” The pamphlet goes on to state that not only is the trap and kill method ineffective, it can actually be harmful:
“By creating that hole in a neighborhood feral cat colony, it encourages fighting, spraying of territory and breeding. In addition, female cats in distressed colonies tend to produce more offspring than those in stable colonies. So, ‘catch and kill’ actually makes the problem worse.”
Once you have identified the location and habits of a colony of cats, the first step is to reach out to local resources such as your city or local rescues to see if you can borrow a humane trap. If you prefer to purchase your own, they can be purchased at Amazon and even HomeDepot. Never use a net, dart, or your own hands.
Once you have a trap, check your local low cost spay and neuter establishment to confirm that they will neuter a feral cat and to see if they require an appointment or if they accept walk-ins. If necessary, schedule an appointment and plan to set the trap accordingly. It is recommended to set the trap the night before a morning neuter appointment.
Withhold food from the cats for 24 hours (but provide water) so the cats will be hungry enough to wander into the traps. Line the bottom of the traps with newspaper. Bait the traps with food-- the smellier the better-- such as tuna or sardines. Find a quiet place on level ground where the cats usually frequent. Set the trap and then maintain a good distance.
Traps should never be left unattended. However, a feral cat isn't going to come near the trap if people are hovering around the trap. It's important to maintain what the cats will feel is a safe distance from you but remain close enough to periodically check the traps.
Once a cat is trapped, cover the trap with a sheet or light blanket. This will help calm the cat. Move the trap to a safe, temperature controlled environment until it is time for the neutering appointment.
The spay and neuter clinic will likely "tip" a feral cat's ear during the neuter surgery. This is the process of removing the upper 1cm of the cat's left ear. It is safe and done while the cat is already under anesthesia. This ear tip is the universal signal that a community cat has been sterilized already.
Source: Alley Cat Allies
How to Trap a Feral Cat for TNR
Source: Kitten Lady, Youtube
Copyright © 2018 A. Jossick