TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return

Have you ever heard the term TNR? TNR is a term widely used in the animal rescue community, and it stands for trap, neuter, return. ‘Trap’ is a term used to trap a feral cat (or dog) safely and humanely. Rescues or community members will trap a cat to provide it veterinary care such as helping with an injury, it is sick and frail, and most important for spay and neuter. Once the animal receives the necessary treatment and/or surgeries, they will spend a few days in recovery and then returned to their colonies. The animal must be returned where it came from.

Trap

Have you ever heard the term TNR? TNR is a term widely used in the animal rescue community, and it stands for trap, neuter, return. ‘Trap’ is a term used to trap a feral cat (or dog) safely and humanely. Rescues or community members will trap a cat to provide it veterinary care such as helping with an injury, it is sick and frail, and most important for spay and neuter. Once the animal receives the necessary treatment and/or surgeries, they will spend a few days in recovery and then returned to their colonies. The animal must be returned where it came from.

If you are trapping a female cat, you always want to make sure that she does not have any kittens she is caring for. If it is unclear, it is best to continue surveying the colony and talking with the locals to see if they have noticed any kittens in the area. If they do have kittens, you will need to trap the mama cat first and then her kittens. If you trap her kittens, she will not follow, even though you may think she will follow her kittens. The mom and kittens should then be brought to a shelter or rescue organization, so they can receive proper medical care and be placed in a foster home.

Image via @MyFosterKittens on Instagram.

Neuter

If the animal is alone without kittens, they will be brought to a vet for spay and neuter surgery. If you are doing this on your own, you will need to talk to a vet beforehand and make sure they will take them and some of them may even do it for cheaper or free to help the animal. You also have the option to bring it to a rescue organization or shelter in your area. For example, the Nevada Humane Society has a great TNR program where you can give them the whereabouts of the animal and they will come out to trap them and have them spayed or neutered.

For those who don’t know, spay surgery is for a female animal, and neuter surgery is for a male animal. When the animal is under anesthesia, the vet will also tip its ear. Ear tipping is a humane practice, think ear piercing, and helps people easily spot out if an animal had already been altered. If you see the ear tip, then you know the animal does not need to be trapped. Fun fact: vets used to tattoo on the incision site for alteration surgery recognition, but with this type of marking, you have to trap the cat and handle it to find out. This situation is not ideal, therefore vets started using the ear tipping method.

Return

The most important part of the return is that the cat is returned to where it came from. Feral cats who are born into and live their lives out in feral colonies are safest there. If you decide to relocate it across town, they are going to seek out their previous colony which adds risks such as getting hit by a car, being hurt by another animal, dehydration, and starvation. You always want to return the animal to exactly where it came from. This gives the animal the best shot at a healthier, longer life.

If for some reason the cat is deemed unsafe or unhealthy to go back to its colony, there are few options, which is why it is never recommended unless in a dire situation. If the animal has been around humans too long, it now may need the human to survive even if it is still feral. In this situation, they can be sent to a rescue organization with a barn cat program. This program ensures it is a human making sure they are fed and receiving proper veterinary care, but they are out in the wild where they are their happiest.

TNR is very important for population control and the safety of feral colonies. Kitten Lady states in her book, Tiny But Mighty, that around 80% of kittens come from outdoors, not breeding situations. Just under a million cats and kittens are euthanized every year due to a lack of resources and funding to care for these animals. If there are fewer animals born into these situations, there are more resources and funding to care for the animals that are alive. Therefore, TNR is extremely important in curbing the mass amounts of cats euthanized in the US every year. It is also important to spay and neuter outdoor pets, especially males because it can control the number of animal fights and injuries happening in the wild. Male cats are notorious for fighting other male cats either for territory or a female cat. Neutering male cats help calm their hormones and lead to less fighting.

TNR is very important, and many organizations across the US dedicated resources just for this type of program. If you are interested in TNR, I would advise you to look up shelters in your area and find out which ones can help train you and get you started! @MyFosterKittens on Instagram is also a great advocate for TNR and fostering and shares many great tips and resources. Follow along for more insights on animal rescue and fostering!

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