A few years ago I was introduced to something called trap-neuter-return. TNR, as it’s called amongst those in the know, is the practice of trapping feral, or wild, cats, getting them spayed/neutered, and putting them back out where they were trapped. Here’s the scoop on TNR and how spaying and neutering not just your pets, but the wild cats outside, is beneficial for all.
Feral cats are felines that may have once been friendly but were dumped out on the streets to survive on their own. These cats tend to revert back to their wild instincts, and once they breed, their children become progressively more wild. What I found in the three years I did TNR in Brooklyn, NY is that people who are willing to simply dump their pets out on the street didn’t get their cat spayed or neutered beforehand. This soon creates a colony of cats that are working together to survive and part of that survival instinct it to breed… and that’s how you go from two unaltered cats to the scary pyramid posted earlier today.
To combat being overrun by wild cats, both the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) along with the ASPCA support the practice of TNR, as it’s the most effective and humane way to deal with a growing colony of feral cats.
The actual practice involves humane steel raccoon traps, designed so that when a cat walks into them from one end to get to the yummy food you’ve placed at the other, closed, end they’ll step on a trip plate and shut the trap. Once trapped, volunteers bring the cat to an organization that offers low cost or free feral cat altering. That may include your local Humane Society, SPCA, or city shelter. In New York, there’s a great low cost spay/neuter program called Muffins, which offers inexpensive spay/neuter vouchers you can use at select vets. Before you bring a feral cat to the vet though, please check in with them to see if they can handle these kinds of animals.
Post surgery, the cats are housed, within their traps, indoors, where they are fed and soiled newspaper lining the cage removed and replaced with clean paper. Toms, or male cats, stay put for 24 hours to recuperate, while queens, or female cats, are kept for about 36 to 72 hours as their surgery is more invasive. Once healed, they’re returned to where they were trapped.
So, why put them back? While many may think taking the cat to a shelter is a better option, it’s not. All feral cats brought to city shelters are euthanized as they are fearful of people and thus unadoptable.
Below is a video by the HSUS that explains just how TNR works and why it’s so important to get these forgotten felines spayed and neutered.
If you’d like to know more about TNR you can check out my blog, where I chronicle one TNR project.
And here are some more resources for those who want to learn more about TNR and feral cats.
Image: Sonia Zjawinski