Trap-Neuter-Return is a Necessary Solution to Help Feral Cats

No one knows for certain how many feral cats currently roam the United States, but recent estimates have exceeded 50 million. These cats are genetically the same as house cats.  The difference lies in the fact that feral cats have spent their lives outside and have had little to no contact with humans. As a result, feral cats fear people and most aren’t candidates for adoption. Feral cats often form colonies near a common food source such as a dumpster or fishing harbor. We know that public commitment to adoption and spaying/neutering of pets comprise the best measures to keep animals off the street and out of animal shelters. Still, innovative ideas about what to do with the millions of feral, unadoptable cats are sorely needed.



One solution that has demonstrated effectiveness in lowering feral cat numbers is Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR. Under a TNR program, organized volunteers use humane traps to capture cats in a targeted geographic area. The cats are then spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and their left ear tips are often snipped while the cats are under anesthesia to mark them as having already been treated. After recovering from the anesthesia, the cats are released at the location where they were captured. Although the cats are still feral and outside, they are effectively removed from the reproductive population.   A two-year study published by The Veterinary Journal this year examined the results of Operation Catnip*, a TNR program supported by NHES that covers a 5-square mile area in Gainesville, FL. The s ...

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