Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR)

A Veterinarian Approved Method Of Managing Feral Cat Colonies

How it works:

  • Trained Program volunteers humanely trap the cats.
  • The cats are then taken to a vet to be examined, spay/neutered, vaccinated.
  • Ear TipThe cats are given a painless, universally recognized "ear-tip" so that they can be identified as part of a managed colony.
  • The cats are then returned to their home colony to live out their lives as naturally as possible, without reproducing.

Why it works:

  • Un-sterilized cats can produce 3-4 litters per year.  The TNR protocol immediately halts that process.
  • It is less expensive, more effective, and more humane than extermination.
  • Returning cats to their home colony prevents other (un-sterilized) feral cats from moving into the area and starting the process all over again.

Why extermination doesn't work:

  • The vacuum effect: Un-sterilized feral cats move into the now available territory and begin the reproduction cycle all over again, creating an on-going, ineffective expense and a public relations nightmare.
  • Areas that have eliminated cat populations (albeit temporarily) for various reasons have, in fact, found themselves facing an overwhelming rodent problem.

Through natural attrition, TNR has humanely, inexpensively, and successfully reduced and managed the number of feral cats on the SMU campus. We have just enough cats on campus to protect the territory from un-sterilized invaders and to eliminate any rodent problems. I have never seen a rat or mouse on campus, even though the surrounding neighborhood has a serious rat problem.

For complete information about TNR programs, visit Alley Cat Allies.

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