The following information is from AlleyCat.Org.
In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, community cats are humanely trapped (with box traps), brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been neutered and vaccinated), and then returned to their outdoor home.
TRAP-NEUTER-RETURN (TNR) SAVES LIVES
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the humane approach to addressing community cat populations, works. It saves cats’ lives and is effective. TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle. TNR improves the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment. This is why so many cities are adopting it.
Scientific studies and communities with TNR programs are proof that TNR reduces and stabilizes populations of community cats. Alley Cat Allies was formed in 1990 to bring TNR—which was already successful in the UK—to the U.S. We launched a national movement with our educational materials, regional workshops, mobilization of advocates, and re-writing of laws. As a result of this hard work, TNR has become mainstream.
For more than a century, the American shelter and animal control system has been relying on catching and killing outdoor cats to control their population. This approach continues to fail, and the number of outdoor cats increases despite the fact that millions of vibrant, healthy outdoor cats are killed each year. Taxpayer money that funds shelters and animal control agencies is wasted on an endless cycle of trapping and killing. Increasingly, the public believes that the money spent on killing could and should be re-allocated to programs that help animals.
With catch and kill policies, vaccinated and neutered cats are removed from an area. But that only creates a vacuum in the environment, where new cats move in to take advantage of available resources. The new cats breed and the cat population grows. Catch and kill policies aren’t just cruel and ineffective, they go against what the public really wants: humane approaches to cats.
TNR balances the needs and concerns of the human communities in which many feral cats live. People don’t want cats rounded up and killed. They want to see cat populations stabilized and appreciate when the mating behaviors of cats are brought into check through spaying and neutering. With TNR, adult cats—spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped—are returned to the colony to live out their lives in their outdoor home.
Alley Cat Allies started in 1990 with a colony of 54 cats living in an alley in northwest Washington, D.C. Caregivers and new volunteers implemented TNR, and the benefits were clear. Over time, the colony declined naturally and humanely. The cats were welcomed in the neighborhood and cared for by many of the residents.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR TNR?
TNR is about more than saving today’s cats: it is the future of animal control and sheltering. Every year, more and more shelters are adopting TNR (or Shelter-Neuter-Return) programs to save more cats and improve their communities. Join us and help us spread the word. You can bring TNR to your community too!