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How Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Helps Feral Cats: A Beginner's Guide

How Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Helps Feral Cats: A Beginner's Guide

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 As you may know, we recently attended CatCamp (which goes without saying) is a cat person's mecca. However, in addition to being entertaining as hell, it was also really informative. We attended an educational talk about the Trap-Neuter-Return program in New York City and are here to share the knowledge! Read on to learn how YOU can help.


Founded in 2003, the NYC Feral Cat Initiative is a program of the Mayor's Alliance For NYC Animals and aims to "humanely reduce the population of community cats in NYC."  Kathleen O'Malley, Director of TNR, spoke about the Trap-Neuter-Return program in New York City.

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TNR Helps Control the Feral Cat Population

-Did you know that cats and humans have coexisted together for more than 10,000 years? Basically, cats are attracted to human trash (i.e., yummy food leftovers). Trash also attracts rats, which we all know cats are also attracted to.

-Un-spayed female cats are able to give birth at just four months old (!!!) This chart shows why we need to make sure as many cats as possible are spayed and neutered, so that we can avoid high numbers of euthanasia.

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What is TNR?

-TNR is a humane way of capturing cats using specially designed traps. TNR programs get cats to "feral friendly" spay and neuter clinics, such as the ASPCA or private veterinarians.

This cage also doubles as a time machine. Just kidding, but it WILL help this kitty on its way to a better, healthier future!

This cage also doubles as a time machine. Just kidding, but it WILL help this kitty on its way to a better, healthier future!

-Benefits of TNR include: less feral cats, less noise and smell, less roaming (since they are not looking for a mate!), free natural rodent control for nearby humans, and the cats end up healthier in the end (they also get vaccinations when taken in for the spay/neuter process).

-Once a cat has been spayed/neutered, it will have the tip of its ear surgically removed to signify that it does not need trapped again. Any cats that show up in the colony without the ear tip will likely need to be TNR-ed.

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How You Can Get Involved

-Do NOT take feral cats to a shelter! Many outdoor community & feral cats are not socialized (aka, "people friendly") so by taking them to a shelter they are actually worse off because they are unlikely to be adopted (and therefore potentially euthanized).

-Take a TNR certification class! They are FREE in NYC (woohooo!)

-Make sure you have permission from the property owners to feed them (the whole "be a good neighbor" applies to feral cats too!)

-Build winter shelters for them when the temps drop. These shelters encourage the cats to stay out of car engines and basements.

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-Attend community meetings. Be a voice for your new furry charges!

Empathy to cats probably comes naturally to you if you're reading this blog (if not - what are you doing here?!?) So now that you're briefed on the matter, next time you come across a community cat, do something good for it! Tell us in the comments what work YOU'VE done for your local feral cat community.

Image Credits: SpayUSA.orgFACEspayneuter.org

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