Feline Fridays: Trap, Neuter and Return Programs – Are They Effective?

We’ve touched on the issue of stray and feral cats in a previous blog and I promised to highlight some methods being used to address this situation. First, if you are new to this subject like me, I thought it would be helpful to give some definitions to round out our knowledge:

  • Stray cats: domestic cats that have had human socialization which are now homeless.
  • Feral cats: offspring of stray cats that have had no socialization with humans.
  • Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR): A humane and effective way of dealing with feral and stray cat populations.

TNR programs are being promoted because it is the only solution that stabilizes feral cat populations. Animal control agencies and humane societies are beginning to realize that catch-and-kill policies never solve the problem. In fact, they can actually exacerbate the problem by creating a vacuum effect that will just be filled by neighboring cats.

A feral cat awaits spay or neuter surgery in a humane trap at the Washington Humane Society's feral cat clinic. Photo courtesy of Glynnis2009.

Conversely, with Trap-Neuter-Return Programs, the cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered, so no more kittens will be born. Some agencies mark altered cats by tipping one ear so cat managers know they can be left alone. They are then returned to their original location to live out their lives in their outdoor home. Not only is TNR the humane option for feral cats, it also improves cats’ lives by relieving them of the stresses of mating and pregnancy.

Furthermore, TNR reduces the tax burden since the amount for catching, housing, killing, and disposing of one cat is about $100, and to trap, spay/neuter, vaccinate and return is only $25. This also alleviates the dilemma that animal welfare agents struggle with by them not having to kill the animals they have hoped to protect and humanely manage. In the end, unlike catch and kill, TNR works.

For more information go to Alley Cat Allies, and Stray Cat Alliance.

Next week: Creative habitats for feral cats.

Stray cat featured photo by Cortney Martin.

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