It is trap neuter or spay, vaccinate for rabies, ear tip and return the cat to his original habitat. TNR is the only effective way to reduce cat populations. The process is carried out by volunteers that care for the cats by providing food, water, shelter and medical attention if needed, along with the intervention of the TNR process. It is being done in cities and counties across the country. In Georgia, there are TNR programs in DeKalb, Walton, Barrow, Newton, Rockdale, Athens, Dawson, Madison, Vinings, Marietta, Pooler, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. There are TNR programs in Aiken, Charleston, Greer and Myrtle Beach, SC., Asheville, NC, and a particularly good program in Spartanburg, SC. Disneyland and Disneyworld have some of the largest TNR programs in the country.
Why do it?
Some cats live outdoors, left behind by previous owners. They have not been sterilized and reproduce. Their population will not slow down unless they are sterilized. The method of catch and kill has not worked; there are still hundreds of thousands of cats. If cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and ear tipped, they will not reproduce. They will also stop the behaviors that most people find offensive. The howling, fighting and spraying are all related to their natural need to mate. After TNR, the feral cats are returned to their original neighborhood. People in neighborhoods where TNR is being done, are educated about the process. Severely sick or injured cats are evaluated and might be euthanized, depending on illness or injury. Friendly cats are put into an adoption program. Kittens are fostered to socialize and adopt out.
What is the cost?
The cost of an animal control agency to pick up, house for the five days, euthanize and dispose of a feral cat is averaged out to be $100. The average cost to spay/neuter and vaccinate a cat is $50 for a female, $35 for a male. If the TNR programs are done by volunteers, there is no cost to the agency, and space is freed up in the facility, helping to alleviate over-crowding. Grants are easily available to assist with TNR programs, when animal control agencies choose to help with this program.
What about people that don’t want them back?
People that do not want them back are educated on the process, the changing behaviors, the benefits of rodent patrol and keeping unaltered cats out of the territory. In most situations, one member of the family may be encouraging cats, by feeding or socializing with them, while another member of the family doesn’t want them there. There are humane deterrents, such as not feeding them, motion detector sprinklers, squirting with a garden hose.
Benefits to the community
People will always feed strays. It is in our nature to be compassionate for the less fortunate, and many will care for animals that are in need. If these cats are in a TNR program, they will be healthy and they will not reproduce. They will keep down the rodent and snake population, as well as keep other unaltered cats out of their territory.
Cats have been living on this planet for a very long time. They do not deserve to be killed simply because humans are irresponsible. If they are put in a TNR program, they will be healthy and live out their lives, and eventually reduce in population because they will not be reproducing. Catch and kill doesn’t work. TNR is a proven method to reduce the overall population of cats, reduce shelter intake and deaths and is the humane way to resolve the issue. Over the last couple of years, businesses and individuals have requested assistance to put trap, neuter and return programs in place, to stop the reproduction cycle, and they have specifically stated that they did not want the cats taken away and killed. They like having them around, become attached to them, appreciate their job performance as rodent eradicators, and they are willing to feed and care for them. They understand that outdoor cats have their place in our community.
What do we need to do?
We need to put simple exemptions in the animal control ordinances to allow the care for ‘community cats’. A copy of the exemptions, from an attorney with Alley Cat Allies, is in this packet, along with more documentation about the benefits of TNR.