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Do You Know About TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return)?

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I was talking to a friend yesterday and she mentioned there were several cats that had established residence in her barn.  I mentioned doing TNR on the cats.  She hadn’t heard of the program, so I told her about it.

Trap, Neuter, Return or TNR, was implemented to reduce the cat population in feral colonies.  Once feral cats are sterilized, studies show they become healthier, gain weight and have an extended lifespan.  Sterilizing cats in a colony also helps the humans that might live nearby by helping curb feline nuisance behavior and reducing the number of litters the colony produces.

Although the concept was first used on feral cat colonies, TNR can also be used on individual cats that may roam neighborhoods.   Once feral cats are sterilized via TNR, a small section is sliced off the top of the cat’s ear to denote they’ve been sterilized.

If you want to embark on a TNR in your neighborhood, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Be sure the cats aren’t someone’s pets.  Also check for the ear nip I mentioned above, if the cat has the ear nip, he/she has already been sterilized.
  • Determine how many cats you’ll be trapping.  Once you have that number, check with your local shelter to make appointments for the sterilization procedure.  Many shelters provide free or low cost spay/neuter to help support controlling the pet population. When you’re talking to the shelter, check to see if they have traps you can borrow.
  • Withhold food from the cats for 24 hours, then put out tempting treats for them, like wet food.  Once you’ve trapped the cats, cover the traps with sheets or blankets to help the cats calm down.
  • Take cats for their sterilization procedures.  Afterward, keep the cats in the traps while they recover.  Keep the traps covered and don’t let the cats out during this recovery period.  Be sure they are housed in a safe, dry location.  If you notice any signs of illness after surgery, notify the vet that performed the procedure immediately.
  • Once they’ve recovered, set them free, returning them to the place you trapped them.

TNR helps reduce the pet population and allows the feral community cats to lead longer, healthier lives.  If  you’d like more information regarding TNR efforts in your community, contact your local animal shelter.


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