TNR (trap, neuter and return/relocate)
The plight of feral cats is something that has troubled, saddened and frustrated animal-lovers for a very long time. Until recently, the only solution offered by government agencies has been to trap and kill the cats, a practice which unfortunately is still done in many areas. But as can be seen by the ever-increasing number of feral cats, this method is not only barbaric - it simply doesn't work.
What is a Feral Cat?
Unlike a stray cat, which is use to human interaction and might even be friendly and welcoming to humans, a feral cat has had little or no human contact during its natural life. They shun humans, do not trust them, and prefer to live alone or in colonies with other feral cats. A feral cat is a wild, independent, undomesticated cat who is more than happy to stay that way!
Never Take a Feral Cat to Your Local Pound
It is nearly guaranteed that any wild cat that you bring to the pound will be euthanized almost as soon as you leave the building. Instead, make a few phone calls and make sure to take the cat to a 'no-kill' shelter, one which adheres to the TNR philosophy.
What is TNR?
Quite simply, TNR is a method of humanely trapping un-altered feral cats, delivering them to a participating shelter or clinic for neutering, vaccinations and any necessary medical treatment, and then returning them to the same location in which they were trapped.
TNR, when implemented properly, successfully decreases the colony population, reduces birth rates and improves the overall health of the feral cat colony.
How Do You Trap a Feral Cat?
Humane 'live' traps are set up in the area where the feral cats are living. Food is placed in the trap to lure the cat inside, when the cat steps on a spring board on the floor the trap door closes. When traps are set, they are checked every few hours so cats don't have to spend too long in the trap.
You can see that Louise's left ear is flattened off on top, this is what is meant by 'ear tipping'. The tip of the ear (usually the left ear) is cut off during spay/neuter surgery while the kitty is under anesthesia. It tells us, even from a distance, that Louise has already been captured and spayed, so no need to catch her again.
One of our recent trapping set-ups...
We try to catch as many cats at one time as possible, it takes alot of traps to catch a colony! We are always in need of more traps!
It can take several days to even lure a cat close to the traps, and then even more days to get them to go inside. This takes patience and persistence. We start with the food bowl out in the open to get the cats near the traps.
We put lots of nice wet smelly food inside leaving a trail for them to follow further into the cage, until they reach the spring board which releases the door. Our volunteers have gotten very good at this, they get alot of practice!
Once the cats are in the traps, they are covered to help keep the them calm, and loaded up for transport to the clinic.
This kitty is awaiting surgery.
A veterinarian spays/neuters all of the feral cats. He examines them to make sure they are not sick or injured, they get vaccinations and are put back either in the traps, or in crates where they recover and are then taken back to their colony and released, or taken to another location, or even to the Sanctuary, if there is no place to take them. Sometimes we can't return them to the place where they lived. As a last resort, some of these cats go into our Barn Cat program and are placed into barn cat homes.
What Do I Do if There is a Feral Cat Colony Near By
Give us a call and we can walk you through the process and even loan a few traps if needed. Sometimes we are available to help, but we are so very short-handed that we can't guarantee we can come ourselves.
At the moment, there is only one place in Stevens County where you can get feral cats spayed/neutered for a very low fee. It is run by Stevens County Cat Care. Stevens County Cat Care is a low cost, high volume, mobile spay/neuter clinic for the cats of Stevens County's low income residents. It is a once monthly clinic which sets-up in a different location within the county each month. They also have a few 'live' traps which they can loan out. See their website for more info.
Caring For a Colony
Ok, not everyone is a Dorothy Max, but there are many people out there who feed and keep an eye on local feral colonies or individual feral cats and we encourage this! They DO need our help even if they don't necessarily want to live in our houses. It is largely due to man that these feral colonies have gotten so far out of hand, it is up to us to get them back under control in an effective, compassionate and humane way. If you've got a colony you are caring for, give us a call and let's get them spayed and neutered so the colony stays under control and will not get out of hand! If you are willing to care for them, we are willing to help!
How Can I Help?
We are ALWAYS in need of volunteers to help with this work. If you would like to give us a hand, please fill out our volunteer form, we would love to have you!