A Catch, Spay and Release Program for Cat. In a Trap–Neuter–Return program, community cats are humanely trapped (with boxtraps), brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been neutered and vaccinated), and then returned to their outdoor home.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane approach to addressing community cat populations. It saves cats’ lives and is effective. TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle. TNR improves the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment. This is why so many cities and towns are adopting it.
TNR balances the needs and concerns of the human communities in which many feral cats live. People don’t want cats rounded up and killed. They want to see cat populations stabilized and appreciate when the mating behaviors of cats are brought into check through spaying and neutering. With TNR, adult cats—spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped—are returned to the colony to live out their lives in their outdoor home.
Why is TNR so important?
Homeless cats do not die of old age. Highly contagious diseases are common, as are infected puncture wounds, broken bones, urinary tract infections, internal injuries, attacks by other animals or cruel humans, automobile accidents, and weather extremes or other terrible living conditions, having to scrounge for food, and being considered a “nuisance,” through no fault of their own.
Homeless cats need—and deserve—to be brought indoors or taken to open-admission animal shelters where they are safe and warm, and have a chance at being adopted into loving homes.
The following info is from the PETA website:
Each situation is different, but it’s never acceptable to feed cats without providing them with medical care, vaccinations, and sterilization surgeries at the minimum. Feeding alone only serves to keep cats in a dangerous situation while also perpetuating the overpopulation crisis and its tragic consequences: the needless suffering and premature deaths of millions of animals every year.
If you’ve determined that you have the time and resources to properly care for a colony of unsocialized (feral) cats, and if the cats are in a safe place (i.e., the climate is temperate and they can be safely contained in a securely enclosed area), please be sure to follow the following minimum guidelines.
Caring for a Feral Cat Colony
The responsibilities of a feral cat caregiver include ensuring that all cats are safely contained on a property where they are welcome, preferably your own. Before caring for cats on someone else’s property, it’s important to get written permission to do so, and have a plan in place for what to do if the property is sold to someone who doesn’t want the cats there or the property owner has a change of heart.
All cats must be humanely captured, sterilized, thoroughly vaccinated, provided with fresh water and food in a sanitary feeding station, given access to shelter, provided with litterboxes (one per cat) that are cleaned twice per day, and treated for illnesses and injuries. A properly managed feral cat colony doesn’t exceed the number of animals legally allowed at any one residence in the jurisdiction in which it is located, is no larger than the caregiver(s) can care for, and is healthy and stable, i.e., no new kittens are born. Only truly feral cats should be added to colonies—tame cats should be cared for indoors, rehomed, or taken to shelters where they have a chance at being reunited with their guardians or adopted into loving indoor-only homes.
Some Considerations of Caring for a Feral Colony:
- Health – Find a veterinarian who can be somewhat flexible—feral cats don’t always keep their appointments! Consider the costs of each new cat’s needs: spaying/neutering, a full exam, ear and dental cleaning, deworming, feline leukemia and feline AIDS testing, and vaccinations, and the ongoing costs of regular veterinary check-ups, dentals, vaccinations, deworming, and monthly oral flea control (make sure to use only medicines that clearly state that they are for oral administration), and more.
- Food & Water – Feed the cats in a dry, sheltered spot, or build them a covered feeding station. Clean, drinkable water must be provided daily, and be available at all times. If you must be away, find a reliable neighbor, friend, or family member to stand in for you. It’s dangerous and irresponsible (and can be deadly) to leave cats unattended for a few days with a big bowl of food, whether they’re indoors or out. (More detailed instructions here.)
- Shelter – Feral cats are genetically identical to the cats who share our homes and are no more equipped to withstand freezing temperatures than our own animal companions are. Cats living in areas where the winters are cold must be provided with a heated barn or other conditioned structure where they can escape the cold and snow.
9-Lives Cat Rescue Society will do its best to provide education and support to those who are responsibly caring for feral colonies in our area.