Trap/neuter/return (TNR) is an important tool that we use to reduce the number of unwanted community cats in our area. A community cat is a cat that wanders around the community with no boundaries. Some of these cats are offspring of cats that have gone missing or were abandoned by their owners. Others have never had owners and are know as “feral” or unsocial. They are most active in the early morning and early evening time. That is when they are out in search of their next meal. Some hunt rodents (which helps control rodent populations) and other prey and some go to homes where a human has been kind enough to set out food for them. This is usually where we come into the picture.
When we were founded in 2016, the Binky Foundation was kind enough to give us a grant for equipment to trap community cats for TNR. When we are contacted by a person who feeds these cats they are usually up to their eyes with these furry friends. It is no mystery that cats breed very fast. In fact, a female kitten can start breeding as early as 4 months of age. A fully grown adult female can also have as many as 3 litters in a single year. So it can get out of control very fast.
To control this overpopulation we first set out traps. These are heavy-duty drop-door traps, not the spring-door traps you might see at Tractor Supply. We bait with 3 small helpings of wet food, one in front, one in the middle and one in the back. By the time the cat gets to the back one they set off the trap and the door shuts. We quickly cover the trap with a sheet as this calms the cat so as not to hurt itself.
The next morning it’s off to the spay/neuter clinic where each cat is given a quick look over to make sure they are in good health. They then have their spay/neuter surgery. During their surgery they receive an ear-tip. This it when a small portion of the left ear is clipped so that it’s no longer a perfect triangle. This is the universal symbol for a cat that has been through a TNR program. They are also administered a shot for pain as well as their rabies vaccination. We pick them up in the afternoon and then they are returned to the area that they were caught. This not only prevents unwanted kittens, but it helps prevent unwanted behaviors such as fighting, cat calling, and spraying.
The best part is when you get to let them out and your job is done!