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How TNR Works

Trap-Neuter-Return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth.

Using this technique, all the feral cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide for them with regular food and shelter. Young kittens who can still be socialized, as well as friendly adults, are to be adopted out to good homes.

TNR has many advantages. It immediately stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters. The nuisance behavior often associated with feral cats is dramatically reduced, including the yowling and fighting that come with mating activity and the odor of unneutered males spraying to mark their territory. The returned colony also guards its territory, preventing unneutered cats from moving in and beginning a new cycle of overpopulation and problem behavior . Particularly in urban areas, the cats continue to provide natural rodent control.

Another significant advantage to TNR is that, when practiced on a large scale, it lessens the number of kittens and cats flowing into local shelters.  This results in lower euthanasia rates and the increased adoption of cats already in the shelters.

TNR is not just the best alternative to managing feral cat populations – it is the only one that works. Doing nothing has resulted in the current overpopulation crisis. Trying to “rescue” the cats and find them all homes is utopian and unattainable given their numbers and the futility of trying to socialize most of them. Trap and remove, the traditional technique exercised by many animal control agencies, is simply ineffective - If all the cats are not caught, then the ones left behind breed until the former population level is reached.  Even if all the cats are removed, new unneutered cats tend to move in to take advantage of whatever food source there was, and the cycle starts again. This explains why more and more animal control agencies are willing to try TNR.
Finally, TNR is an idea whose time has come.  It recognizes there is a new balance in our urban and rural landscape, one that includes feral cats. It seeks to manage this new population with enlightened techniques that allow the cats to live out their lives and fulfill their natures, while minimizing any possible negative impact. TNR is a movement that will continue to grow as more and more caring people see its potential and, in time, it will become the predominant method of feral cat management.

Advantages of TNR at the Colony Level

Population Stabilization

  • No new kittens - one female cat and offspring can produce up to 420,000 cats in 6 years.

  • Removes socialized cats from the colony

Prevention of New Colonies

  • No Vaccuum Effect -  No new cats move in or cats get left behind and then breed to capacity

Healthier Colony

  • Spaying/neutering relieves the cats of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy

  • Spaying/neutering virtually eliminates the chance of cats developing mammary or testicular tumors.

  • Decreased competition for mating means the cats are also less likely to suffer injuries

  • Reduction in roaming helps avoid outdoor dangers, such as being hit by a car

  • Spaying/neutering improves feral cats’ coat condition and helps them gain weight

  • Although feral cats are generally healthy, vaccinations given during TNR protect them even further and help put community members at ease

Noise Reduction

  • Females will no longer have a heat cycle

  • Neutered males will no longer fight over females

  • No mating means less noise

Odor Reduction

  • Reduced/eliminated spraying

Less Visible Society

  • Neutered cats will roam less and be less visible to the community

Control of Rodents

Humane Solution

  • Lower euthanasia rate - the national average euthanasia rate for cats in shelters is about 70%

Cats have lived outdoors for thousands of years—in fact, keeping indoor-only cats only became possible in the mid-20th century. Outdoor cats are part of our natural landscape.

With Trap-Neuter-Return, you can stabilize the population humanely, improve the cats’ lives, save taxpayer dollars, address neighbors’ concerns, and help the entire community reach a solution that benefits everyone.

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