THE HUMANE SOLUTION TO MANAGING COMMUNITY CATS
TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) is a program in which community or free-roaming cats that live outdoors are humanely trapped and transported to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Cats that have undergone the procedure are ear-tipped – while under anesthesia, a small portion (1/4”) of the left ear is painlessly removed for identification. Friendly cats are put up for adoption. Scientific evidence as well as decades of hands-on experience proves that TNR is not only more humane, it is more effective than programs that rely on catch and kill. For many ferals health and quality of life are dramatically improved through the TNR approach. Following surgery recovery, cats are returned to their site of origin, a dedicated caretaker provides food/water daily as well as a simple shelter. Over time the size of the colony is reduced through natural attrition. Ultimately, cats and communities coexist peacefully with mutual benefits.
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY CAT?
“Community” cat is an umbrella term encompassing outdoor cats from a variety of sources. Also referred to as free-roaming cats, populations generally consist of a mixture of truly feral cats, semi-socialized cats and lost or abandoned pets.
Community cats can be the result of people either abandoning their un-sterilized pet cat(s) or irresponsibly neglecting to spay/neuter their cats. These cats then breed, producing kittens that may have very little or no human contact. Feral or community cats although in many ways similar to wildlife, are in fact descendants of domestic cats. Some may eek out a meager “existence” but without human assistance, they do not thrive. For community cats to thrive they need a helping hand in the way of cat food, fresh water, and a simple shelter to protect them from the elements.
WHY RETURN THE CATS?
WHY NOT RELOCATE THEM?
Often times we receive calls regarding “removing” cats. This is usually not feasible as there is nowhere to move the cats. Even if land is available, there are other considerations. Cats are extremely territorial and are bonded to the land on which they were raised as well as with other cats in the colony. Evidence of cats travelling hundreds of miles to their original home is well documented. Sadly, many cats trying to get back to their home die in the process from traffic or starvation. Only as a last resort should the relocation of cats be considered. Should this be the only alternative it is recommended to keep cats in a sheltered enclosure on the new land for a minimum of six weeks before releasing on the property.
THE VACUUM EFFECT
THE UNWANTED CONSEQUENCE OF RELOCATION AND TRAP/KILL
A phenomenon known as the vacuum effect occurs when cats are suddenly removed from an area through trap/kill or relocation. Inevitably un-sterilized cats that evaded capture or cats that show up for the newly vacated food source claim the territory, and begin the breeding cycle once more.
Whether owned, stray or feral, any un-sterilized cat will reproduce, contributing to feral populations of tomorrow and increasing not only the number of unwanted cats and kittens in our shelters but our already high euthanasia rates as well.